“Through celebrations in their seasons are the deeper powers of human nature realized.”
— Rudolf Steiner
Waldorf is big on festivals. September 29th was Michaelmas. In our last parent council meeting, a parent tried to describe the meaning of Michaelmas to the newbies, she got it confused with Martinmas, which has something to do with lanterns.
I’ve done some piecing together from a few sources and descriptions and as near as I can make out, Michaelmas is about preparing yourself for winter both mentally and physically. The challenges of winter are symbolized by a dragon. Saint Michael is able to slay the dragon, therefore ensuring survival.
My daughter’s school put together quite the celebration.
On Monday, the kindergarteners planted bulbs in the courtyard. Wednesday morning, the third grade class came in at sunrise to stir buckets of manure tea, which was referred to as a “bio-dynamic preparation.” Turns out Rudolf Steiner not only developed a great educational model, but also a methodology for organic farming. What a guy. The manure tea was then sprinkled on the bulbs planted earlier in the week.
All students brought a harvest gift to their classrooms for exchange. We brought a bouquet of flowers from our garden, some dahlias, sedum and lilies. And we brought a half dozen eggs for each of Nora’s teachers.
The main event was a play put on by all the grades depicting Saint Michael’s slaying of the dragon. We’re talking kids playing recorders, lots of singing, lines said in unison: I was a puddle people. My only regret was that I could make out most of the words. Kindergarteners are relegated to a viewing position on a hill above the crowd next to the playground, so as bored kids peeled off the group and headed for the play structure, it became impossible to hear everything.
The second graders had on greens shirts and green felt hats. The first graders were dressed in white and waved large puff balls over their heads, I believe symbolizing winter. The fourth graders were townspeople. The fifth graders were red and got to bang on a bunch of percussion instruments when the dragon came through. The seventh & eighth graders were underneath a rather impressive looking dragon costume. It was an amazingly cohesive performance for gradeschoolers. Again, Waldorf kids impress me with their attentiveness and self possession. These kids had it together.
After the play, there was a family picnic in the park and then an early release for the entire school. School day over at lunch time. No aftercare provided. In other words, an effective tool for forcing busy parents to take a breath and spend an afternoon with their kids.
Waldorf, I love you.