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:
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.
Occurring between mid-October and mid-November, this “festival of lights” is celebrated by our fifth graders during their exploration of ancient Indian culture.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“My heart is always so full when I attend anything at the school, especially the festivals, with all the spiritual strengths they engender. Precious times.” —Mary C.