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:
Autumn Festival of Courage
In the autumn, we celebrate this time of year in order to imbue the students with the inner resolve to transform negativity into positive action. We create this mood through the story of defeating the dragon or serpent or monster, depending on the origin of the country this universal story is told. The creature that is overcome is a metaphor for what is unjust and unkind in the world, and by defeating or transforming it, good can prevail and direct us.
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.
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.