May Day Celebration

By Ms. Erica

What a beautiful May Day celebration! The Swallowtail Farm Campus was the perfect place for our festivities. Parents and children wove ivy and brightly colored flowers into crowns and the children danced with their class around the maypole. A community picnic followed.

The Middle School students also performed their class play, a Commedia dell’Arte production; “Cupid’s Arrow Amiss.”

Candlemas

By: Ms. Erica

Whether Candlemas be dark or clear, forty days of winter will still be here.

February 2nd  is one of the cross-quarter days in the wheel of the year. It falls exactly between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox and in many traditions is considered the beginning of Spring. In Christian tradition Candlemas is celebrated on February 2nd. In Celtic traditions it is called Imbolc and in Ireland it is celebrated as St. Brigid’s Day.

Candlemas celebrates the presentation of Christ in the temple and the ritual purification of Mother Mary. In the church, it is celebrated by a procession of candles, and candles are blessed in the ceremony and then taken home to be used.

Imbolc is associated with the increasing light of the sun as winter gives way to spring. In Ireland, February 1st is St. Brigid’s Day, who began as a Pagan goddess and became a Christian saint. She was a fire and fertility goddess and on the feast day, her statue was washed in the sea and then carried in a cart through the fields surrounded by candles.

This festival day carries the themes of purification and light. It is considered an auspicious day to ‘clean out the hearth’ in preparation for spring. This festival is about new beginnings, so it is a good time to reflect on what you want to accomplish or change. Light a fire and then reflect on your hopes for the upcoming year.  What new seeds do you want to plant? It can also be celebrated by lighting a candle in a window as it gets dark, as a symbol of the increasing light.

Here are some ways that Waldorf families celebrate Candlemas:

One would be to think of goals and things you would like to see happen in this New Year together, in this time of new beginnings, as the earth becomes Spring again and do something to celebrate that.

Of course, the major activity is usually candle-making in some form – rolling candles, candle dipping, making earth candles outside in the ground and lighting them.  Some families have their candles blessed on this day.

Some families celebrate by tilling a garden plot for March planting.

You could  have dinner in candlelight.

Martinmas Lantern Walk

By Ms. Erica

The Martinmas Lantern Walk is a traditional Waldorf festival celebrated by Waldorf schools around the world recalling the story of St. Martin who grew up in Italy. One evening he was riding his horse through town and saw a beggar shivering with cold. He stopped his horse; dismounted, tore his cloak in half and wrapped the poor beggar in it. He then left his lantern for the poor beggar to warm himself and have some light that cold, cold night.

St. Martin represents caring for one another, especially those in need, by bringing warmth and kindness to every human being.

We celebrate with a simple tradition of making lanterns in our classrooms and going on a lantern walk bringing our light into the darkness. In addition we have an annual warm coat, hat and mitten drive for those in need.  Please see the posters around the school for more information.

We encourage all of our school families to join us on our lantern walk, singing or walking quietly, honoring this sacred light festival.

Michaelmas

By Ms. Erica

Michaelmas is celebrated in Waldorf Schools all around the world on September 29th around the time of the equinox. This is for us a turning point, a change in the relation of light and darkness in the world around us. As the cool of autumn comes, we take the gift of warmth and light from the summer sun to sustain us through the cold and dark time of winter ahead. The life forces of nature are receding and the inner life of the human soul is called to awaken.

This festival is named for the Archangel Michael, conqueror of the powers of darkness, the harvester of the deeds of human souls. It is at this time that the image of Michael with the dragon appears before us as a mighty imagination, challenging us to develop strong, brave free wills, to overcome love of ease, anxiety and fear. This demands inner activity, a renewal of the soul, which is brought to consciousness in the Michaelmas festival – the festival of the will.

Michaelmas – Swallowtail Farm, 2009

Michael is often portrayed as the angel warrior, astride his powerful steed carrying a sword of light.  The children hear stories about St. George, a brave knight, who with the help of the Archangel Michael slays or tames the dragon.  St. Michael, warrior of courage, fighter against evil, rules the heavenly spheres, he guides and inspires us to take courage against darkness.  St. George symbolizes the human aspect of this conflict; he is the knight who looks to Michael for strength and guidance.

At this time of year we can ask of ourselves, “What is our challenge to face, our struggle to overcome?” A tradition at Swallowtail School is for the Grades students and their teachers face the challenge of walking from the School Campus to the Farm Campus. Once they have triumphed through this challenging walk, they are welcomed to the Farm by the Early Childhood students with dragon bread and honey butter! The Middle School students reenact the story of St. George and the dragon for the younger students.

I rise through the strength of Mi-cha-el
Light of Sun
Radiance of Moon
Splendor of Fire
Swiftness of Wind
Depth of Sea
Stability of Earth
Firmness of Rock
Mi-cha-el!

~By St. Patrick