Throughout history, human civilizations have celebrated nature's rhythms. At the Waldorf School of Princeton, we celebrate festivals throughout the year to sustain and renew ourselves, from a variety of traditions and geographies. In addition to supporting the history and social science curricula, these annual seasonal festivals of nature and humanity foster wonder, reverence, and gratitude while promoting community responsibility and participation. Teachers, parents, and children work together to plan and prepare in ways that cater to each group's unique abilities.
Below are a few of the festivals and celebrations that may mark our year:
Michaelmas: In the autumn during harvest season, we celebrate Michaelmas. In the Celtic tradition, Michael represents the unconquered hero, fighting against evil and the powers of darkness. He is a model for valor and courage. We celebrate with an array of harvest fruits and "dragon bread," physical challenges for the children, and the telling of legends and myths.
Halloween Walk: This event, which is held at dusk on a weekend and is open to the public, is a fright-free experience for young children and their families.
Diwali: Occurring between mid-October and mid-November, this "festival of lights" is celebrated by our fifth graders during their exploration of ancient Indian culture.
Lantern Walk: The younger children each make a lantern for our gathering in early November. Walking and singing with glimmering lanterns held high, we carry light into the approaching darkness of winter.
Santa Lucia Day: This celebration in the second grade supports the children's year-long study of saints and figures from fables and mythology, culminating with a parade through the school honoring Santa Lucia on December 13.
Advent: With quiet anticipation, we enter the season with the Winter Garden. One at a time, the younger children walk through the spiral of evergreens to the center, light a candle, then place it somewhere on the returning path. This celebration reminds us of the dark journey ahead. In classrooms around the school, the children prepare to face the wintry nights.
Olympiad: Fifth grade students from nearby Waldorf schools enhance their studies of ancient Greece by participating in their own Olympiad. Children work together to earn accolades in the areas of beauty, grace, and truth.
May Fair: May Fair is an ancient festival welcoming the spring. In our community-wide celebration, we raise the maypole, which is bedecked with fresh flowers and ribbons. The children make and wear floral wreaths and herald the arrival of spring with dance and song. Students present traditional maypole dances and other offerings to the public. Live music, healthy foods, and children's activities add to the gaiety of this special day.
St. John's Bonfire: This festival marks the middle of summer and the shortening of the days on their gradual march toward winter. St. John's Feast is traditionally celebrated on either the 23rd or 24th of June. The importance of the day can be traced back many thousands of years. Many stone circles and other ancient monuments are aligned to the sunrise on Midsummer's Day - the best known being Stonehenge in the United Kingdom. At our school, we gather, sing songs, and tell a story before lighting a 20-foot bonfire!