Celebrating the festivals is one way that children can experience and participate in the rhythms of nature and of the changing seasons.
It also connects them to the deepest elements of our common humanity. We hope to awaken in the children an overall sense of reverence, joy and wonder through our festival celebrations.
In order to be sensitive to the wide variety of cultures and beliefs represented in our population, we like to focus on the common aspects among festivals such as love, light, family, food, and simple rituals. By looking at the underlying reason behind a particular festival we can then translate the celebration into activities that are meaningful and age-appropriate for young children. Typically these include stories, food, games, songs, and simple crafts.
Michaelmas, September: a potluck picnic and puppetry.
"All nature-beings tend towards sleep; The depths of the sould shall now awaken." Rudolf Steiner.
For the children, central to the Michaelmas Festival is a story-- the story of Michael overcoming the dragon. For the adults, this resonates as an inner battle. As the autumn unfolds and we are no longer enlivened by the sense world, the struggle is to wake up.
Lantern Walk, November: a walk through the night guided by our lanterns, a potluck supper around the bonfire and shadow puppetry.
This is a time for us to be together, a time when the darkness of the year is growing stronger, and we gather the last rays of the summer sun to light our way towards the darkness of mid-winter. In Europe, November 11 is the festival of Martinmas, celebrating the life of St. Martin, a soldier who cut his cloak in two to share with a poor beggar.
During our Lantern Festival, we enjoy the gesture of sharing and a feeling of giving, and the opportunity for our children to live in this mood. As we bring ourselves in such a way; to give our cloak, or a smile of acceptance of each other, our festival shines forth on a dark night.
Spiral of Light: an advent garden
This reverent and special festival happens in December, on the chosen day, at dusk. A spiral of greenery, accented with crystals and stones and a white candle in the center, is layed out in the center of the room. Parents and children enter quietly and once everyone is seated, a mysterious figure walks the spiral and lights the center candle. Each child is given a candle to walk the spiral, light and find a place to set down their own light. Together, we sing for each child's "journey". At the end, the spiral is fully illuminated by little lights and the room has a magical glow. All process out quietly. It is a good way for both children and adults to begin the holiday season with a sense of quiet expectation.
Planting Festival: work in the garden, a potluck meal and puppet show
A day to gather and welcome spring! The children work on the getting the garden ready in the weeks leading up the festival, and on the given day, we come together to plant, water and care for our seeds. The day concludes with a potluck meal and seasonal puppet show.