Festivals and Celebrations
Seasonal festivals and celebrations occur throughout the year and play a very important part in the curriculum. The larger rhythms of the seasons are marked by the preparation and celebration of the great festivals of the year which weave into one another as the seasons are related and intertwined. Here the experience of the quality of each season is deepened and celebrated.
In our own inner preparation for the festival, we ponder the qualities of each season to be celebrated:
- gratitude at harvest time;
- the courage, strength, and perseverance of Michaelmas;
- the quiet hope and anticipation of Advent;
- the love and light of Christmas and Hanukah;
- the transformation, miracle, and rebirth of Easter, Passover, and Springtime;
- the gaiety and celebration of nature at May Day.
These qualities are expressed in the celebration itself through the power of pictures, songs, stories, drama, and ritual, thus providing nourishment for body, soul, and spirit.
Examples of festivals and celebrations through the course of the year include: Michaelmas, Halloween, Martinmas Lantern Walk, Thanksgiving, Christmas, St. Valentine’s Day, Chinese New Year, Easter, May Day, Mother’s Day, and the End of Year Picnic.
Parents will be informed of the dates and schedules of the celebrations through the school calendar or teacher announcements.
Seasonal holidays and festivals at Waldorf Sarasota reflect universal life-affirming events that we, as humans, have celebrated throughout history. The real beauty of our festivals is that they provide the unique opportunity for individuals of different religions to unite in celebration of common beliefs, encouraging awareness and respect for one another in a shared world. Celebrations throughout the year inspire community spirit, reverence and joy, reflecting ancient traditions with modern application.
The Autumn Festival of Michaelmas celebrates our ability to conquer the powers of darkness by overcoming our fears and developing a strong and brave free will. Through great symbolism, Waldorf children are taught to stand for what is good and true, overcome obstacles and have courage for their tasks.
The deep origins of Halloween date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. While October 31st marks the end of Summer, the Harvest and beginning of the dark, cold, Winter, Samhain foretold the coming of the Celtic New Year on November 1st. On the night of Samhain, it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth and the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became interpenetrated. Waldorf uses the symbolic and interpretative festival of Halloween to teach rich and magical stories about this holiday through a celebratory experience enchanting to children of all ages.
Spiral Garden has become the symbol for Advent and a tradition for nursery through the primary grades in the Waldorf Sarasota community. The Waldorf Sarasota Spiral Garden is a journey inward toward awareness of the eternal light within each of us and all humanity. Celebrated at the advent of the Winter season with greens and candlelight, the Spiral Garden honors spiritual rituals from around the world that also reflect the rich diversity of our community.
May Day is resplendent with flowers, wreath-making and Maypole dancing to celebrate the coming of summer. Parents and children share in the creation of wreaths, song, dance and games, followed by a potluck picnic incorporating local, organic and seasonal harvest.
Assemblies are held before Thanksgiving, Winter and Spring Break(s) and Graduation by the grades students for the families and friends of the Waldorf Sarasota community. These unique performances provide a wonderful opportunity for parents to share in their child’s development, for students to develop confidence and pride in their accomplishments, and for each student to recollect their younger years, as s/he anticipates journeys to come.