Celebrating the Rhythms of the Year
Bright Water Waldorf School has a rich festival life, enabling us to connect in as a community, the cycles of nature and establish a yearly rhythm for our children. Through the sharing of stories, food, songs and activities linked to the seasons and expressed with beauty and reverence we nourish the heart and soul.
Our yearly festivals are joyous occasions when the whole school community gathers together to celebrate the season and the human relationship to the cycle of the year. They are a time when alumni and former students come back to visit. And, they are a time to be in community with one another; working together to create an event that leaves a lasting impression upon those who attend, young and old alike.
Perhaps the most overarching tradition that touches every student who progresses from first to eighth grade is the Rose Ceremony. This ceremony marks a significant rite of passage, initially for first graders at the beginning of the year—when eighth graders present them with a “welcome” rose as they begin first grade—and then for eighth graders at the end of the year—when first graders offer them a rose to bid them farewell as they set off to high school. This ceremony is marked with music and art, and it is rich with reflections on the passage of time and individual and community growth.
Michaelmas is our first festival of the new school year, marking the change in seasons from Summer to Autumn, and bringing our school together in celebration; but even deeper than this, it is a festival that celebrates the inner strength and courage we hold both as individuals and as a community.
Michaelmas, which began as an equinox and harvest festival in the Middle Ages, is also a feast to honor the archangel Michael. Michael is an archangel in Judaism, Christianity and Islam and, in all traditions, he is a symbolic leader of the force of good over evil and courage over cowardice. The celebration of Michaelmas teaches the importance of overcoming fear and strengthening resolve.
We become aware of our own inner energies, of the strength of spirit, of Michael, and of the courage residing at the core of our being. This is the power with which we vanquish the Dragon—our fears and struggles and feelings of disconnection from the things most important to us. Thus, the gift of Michaelmas is a re-connection with the strength and courage we hold within ourselves, and a reminder that through rising to the challenges that face us we find freedom and growth.
For more about Michaelmas, see: Michaelmas: What’s Behind this Festival? by Skye Chamberlain
Sugar Plum Faire
Sugar Plum Faire is a celebration of the winter holiday season with kid friendly craft making, candle dipping, felt hat creations, and live music. There will be many handmade craft vendors, a bake sale, hot food, and this year, a children's book swap - bring yours to share. This is a very kid friendly event that also showcases some of the many warm aspects of a Waldorf education and the strength of our school's community.
The Spirit of May Faire
by Skye Chamberlain, Seventh Grade teacher
It is the month of May
When merry children play
Let every lad and lass
Come dance upon the grass
So sang the village children as the blossoms were wound around the tall pole that would be set up in the middle of the common to begin the day of dancing and festivities on the first day of May. In agrarian communities, the end of winter was celebrated with joy and relief. New lambs, calves and goats showed promise of bounty in the future. As the fickle wind and weather of March and early April gave way to the gentle breezes and blossoms of May and the first new foods began to vary the winter table, people crawled out of winter hibernation, put on their finery and met in their communities to make merry and raise their voices in song.
The celebration of the first day of the month of May, called Mayfair or Beltane, is a tradition with deep roots in the soil of pre-Christian Europe. Unlike the more solemn holidays of early spring, May Day was a time for rejoicing and looking forward to the happy summer days to come. The festival has its origin in pagan times as a rite to insure an abundant harvest at Samhain, half a year away. This magic mood of regeneration is never very far beneath the surface in later celebrations. Girls would wake before dawn to wash their faces in the first dew of the happy day to be forever beautiful and young. Boys and girls alike would don their best and brightest and come to town hoping to catch the eye of the one they fancied, and many a match was made on the first of May. A young May King and Queen were often chosen to preside over their subjects.
As the day proceeds, ivy is knotted into crowns and dancers bow and bend to their partners like swaying branches. The May Tree or May Pole is hoisted into the air amid shouts of triumph. Weaving the ribbons together reweaves the bonds of the community and renews their ties, one to the other. If King Winter is lurking, the celebrants are ready, Morris dance sticks in hand, to give him a good drubbing and chase him out of town!