In a Waldorf school, weekly school rhythm and the annual seasonal festivals of nature and humanity are celebrated in ways that help foster wonder, reverence and gratitude. Although this is not a comprehensive list of festivals and activities celebrated throughout the school year, here are some of the festivals important in our school life.
On September 29, during harvest season, is Michaelmas day which starts the weeks of the season. In Celtic tradition, St. Michael represents the unconquered hero, fighting against evil and the powers of darkness. He is a model for valour and courage.
Thou Michael, the Victorious
I make my circuit under thy shield.
Thou Michael, of the white steed
And of the bright, brilliant blade!
Conqueror of the dragon,
Be thou at my back.
Thou ranger of the heavens!
Thou warrior of the king of All!
Thou Michael, the Victorious,
The glory of mine eye.
The life forces of nature have drawn to a close; the fruits have ripened and have been harvested. The leaves have burned out in their blaze of colour and dropped to the ground. Gardens and yards are cleared out now and left to rest. This creates an opening for people to develop their inner soul life and the challenge is to awaken to the cultivation of the inner life.
Martinmas, or Lantern Walk, tells the story of St. Martin who gave his cape to a poor beggar, and has inspired the tradition of an evening lantern walk and the sharing of lantern songs and food with the children of the younger classes and their parents on or after November 11.
This is one of the most beautiful and memorable of the festivals that families of the Playschool and Kindergarten, and sometimes Grade 1 and 2, share at the beginning of Advent year. In a room lit by candles and smelling of evergreens, the children go one at a time through the spiral of evergreens to the center of the garden. Each child lights their candle and then places it somewhere on the pathway to light the way for the next child. It is a reminder of the journey inward each of us must make during the dark days ahead.
May Day is an ancient festival honouring the change of seasons from darkness to light. The tree of life was part of this festival and is now represented by the Maypole. Our school hosts a May Fair that is open to the entire community with Maypole dancing, songs, food and children’s activities.
Come celebrate the end of summer and the arrival of autumn’s bountiful harvest! Village restaurants are invited to showcase their best harvest soup. The event is held in the upper village coinciding with the Turkey Sale/Ski Swap and the last Farmers’ Market of the year. Customers can sample all of the soups and have a bowl of their favourite!
The Children’s Christmas Fair is an annual tradition at most Waldorf schools. It is a chance to invite the community to come and see the school as well as enjoy making seasonal crafts with their children. The school and Field House are decorated with fragrant evergreens and there are a number of craft tables, a magic Cookie House, fresh baked good, music, puppet shows and storytelling. All crafts are in the Waldorf genre: natural, simple and beautiful!
The Annual Giving Campaign is traditionally run in most Waldorf schools to provide an opportunity for faculty, staff and parents to give what they can towards improving the school – to join together in a charitable showing of love and support for our school community, and to work together to improve capital aspects of the school. Participation and a groundswell of support is our key goal – donations of all sizes are cherished.
We believe in supporting parents and caregivers of children of all ages by offering parent education and enrichment opportunities to our school community and often, the community at large. Events may include guest lecturers, film screenings and Waldorf 101 sessions.