Since ancient days, human beings all over the world have celebrated festivals to mark familiar milestones in the circling course of the seasons. These festivals help to link mankind in awareness and wonder to the cycles of warmth and cold, light and dark, birth and death, and sowing and reaping within the rhythms of nature. Individuals are inwardly nourished and community life is strengthened in the celebration of festivals.
Children delight in festivity. In Waldorf schools, festivals and celebrations are given particular emphasis. Following are some festivals celebrated at the School:
In late September, Michaelmas is a celebration of the harvest and a kindling of inner strength and courage when all of nature appears to die. The central image is that of Michael overcoming the dragon. The children celebrate with an assembly of story and song, outdoor work or artistic activity.
During the school day, elementary school children parade in costume to the auditorium for Halloween festivities. Costumes should be imaginative and homemade. Kindergarten children have their own special celebration.
In December, Advent is the time of preparing for the winter solstice and the return of the light. The Advent season is celebrated in regular Monday morning assemblies with songs and stories from different traditions. The early childhood teachers will inform parents regarding special events such as the Advent Garden.
Also in the Advent season, each year the faculty and staff perform The Paradise Play and The Shepherd’s Play from the Oberufer tradition. The Paradise Play is appropriate for children in third grade and older.
St. Nicholas Day
On St. Nicholas Day, St. Nicholas and his sometimes-rascally assistant, Ruprecht, visit the children. The children anticipate his visit with delight. St. Nicholas is the giver of gifts – he is tall and dignified and his attire resembles that of a bishop. He reads from his Great Book, speaking with wisdom and understanding to each child in the elementary school about his or her accomplishments and struggles.
In the kindergarten, St. Nicholas simply knocks on the door and vanishes, leaving a basket full of apples and nuts.
This festival of the beginning of summer is celebrated at the school with music, blossoms, ribbons and Maypole dancing. The local Morris and Garland dancing teams visit us, and Jack-in-the-Green has been known to appear. The dancing is followed by a picnic and games. Families are encouraged to attend, even though the first of May is often a school day. Nowhere in the Berkshires is summer welcomed more joyfully!
Birthdays are celebrated as close to the actual day as possible.
Parents of early childhood students are invited to join the class and traditionally bring a wholesome, festive snack to share with the class. Parents may share a special wish for their child on this day.
Elementary school students celebrate their birthdays in a quiet and meaningful way, which may include lighting a candle, saying a special verse or poem all together, or sharing a home-made treat brought in by the birthday child.
The Foreign Language program is enriched by the celebration of festivals that are part of Spanish culture, such as the Spanish Day of the Dead in the fifth grade.
The beginning and end of the school year are both marked with school community picnics. The Week at a Glance email and calendar update will include announcements of picnic dates, celebrations sponsored by different classes, and other community events.