In addition to traditional holidays, celebrating seasonal festivals is a way of observing and showing appreciation for the recurring rhythms and cycles in nature.
Festivals are an integral component of the school. They provide opportunities for our community to come together for seasonal/cultural celebrations.
As the Earth makes its journey around the Sun, the solstices and equinoxes become the four cornerstones for the rhythm of the year. They inspire our seasonal festivals in the themes that are universal and culturally diverse.
Festival of Courage
Midway between the northern hemisphere’s summer and winter solstices, during the harvest season, our children celebrate Michaelmas, known in Waldorf tradition as the “Festival of Courage”.
Because Michaelmas falls near the equinox, it is commonly associated with the beginning of autumn. So Waldorf schools also use Michaelmas to teach students the importance of using courage to prepare for the colder, darker, winter months.
It’s symbolic of darkness, so it’s important for children to have warmth inside with them. In addition to learning about St. Michael and marking the beginning of fall, Michaelmas represents harvest time – a time when people make preparations for the winter.
Michael, the archangel who inspires courage, is associated with this festival time. Through the inspiration of this angelic being, the lowly peasant, George, was inspired to persevere, though the odds were stacked against him, to complete a daunting task, slaying the “dragon”.
Do any of us face a daunting task? Does our school face daunting tasks? Do we face daunting tasks as parents? Does the earth itself face a daunting future? Even in the traditional stories of St. George, an important aspect is always that, although many have come before him in trying to defeat the dragon, it is only he, who comes during the autumn harvest time who is able to complete the task. The Jewish tradition of Yom Kippur observed around this time requires one to go deep within one’s own depths (to face the “dragon” within?) and to be truthful in making atonement. This requires the greatest courage of all. This is the spiritual connection between these two outwardly different observances.
In the autumn, we have a Lantern Walk for the early grades. This event fills the children with excitement and anticipation. The Lantern Walk symbolizes the journey of St. Martin, a Roman soldier who cut his cloak in two to share with a poor beggar. It is said that St. Martin was known for his gentleness, his unassuming nature, and his ability to bring warmth and light to those who were previously in darkness. The children make their lanterns in an effort to bring their inner light forth as the winter days grow short, darkness comes earlier, and the winter chill begins to creep in.
Winter Spiral of Light
As the days continue to grow shorter in the winter, we celebrate the image of the sleeping earth and the light to come in the spring with the Spiral of Light. The Winter Spiral is a festival of light, movement, and symbolic change. A spiral of evergreen tree boughs and pine cones is laid out on the floor and decorated with crystals, shells, and plants. Amid beautiful music, each child walks to the innermost point of the spiral, carrying an unlit candle, which is lighted from the tall brightly burning candle in the center. Moving outward, the child places the candle along the spiral pathway, bringing the spiral slowly to light. As each child has his turn, the darkened room begins to glow with the beautiful candle light.
With the New Year comes a gradual transition of winter into spring.
May Faire is a celebration carried from ancient times, to say farewell to winter and welcome to spring and is celebrated around May Day. Dances around the May Pole have been passed through generations and honor the fertility of the new season. Join us for a celebration including maypole dances, music, activities and food in a country fair atmosphere.
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