Festival Life at Cedarwood Waldorf School
While the diverse educational program at Cedarwood guides our students’ intellectual, social and emotional development, the festival life of the school nurtures their spiritual lives and fosters their moral integrity.
Festival life at Cedarwood begins on Sept. 29, Michaelmas Day. This date is often associated with the harvest because of its proximity to the autumnal equinox. Waldorf schools throughout the world hold an all-school, all-grades play on this day. The play portrays the story of the Archangel Michael and the Dragon he tamed. During the month of September, the school is filled with the spirit of the Michaelmas festival. Each classroom can be heard throughout the school singing, speaking and rehearsing for the play. St. Michael guides each student to tame the earthly emotional forces of the Dragon (the forces of the student’s unconscious will).
On Martinmas Day, Nov. 11, students gather and carry handmade lighted lanterns, sing songs and take a walk with their families and friends through the dark woods. After the end of daylight-saving time, when the light of the sun seems dim and far away, we celebrate the festival of Martinmas. We receive the spiritual warmth and light of the sun within our own inner lanterns, and we make our way through the seasonal darkness following this inner light. We share the warmth of our care and kindness with others in the manner of St. Martin, who tore his cloak in two and shared it with a beggar. Through this festival, we awaken to the warmth in ourselves that leads us through the dark, cold winter.
The Winter Spiral takes place during the first week of December. Every year during this festival, each student takes a solo journey in the darkness, carrying a red apple with an unlit candle in it, walking along a spiral path of evergreens. When the student arrives at the center of the spiral path, a quietly shining destiny candle awaits. Students receive the light of their own destiny, choose spots along the spiral to place their apples, and offer up their light to the world as they traverse the spiral path in reverse. One by one, the path grows more illuminated by the destiny light of each successive student. By the end, a starry world has been created on the earth and shines towards the heavens.
May Day is celebrated throughout the world on the first of May. During the May Day festival students dance around the maypole with colorful ribbons, symbolizing rays of light from the sun. Their dance steps create intricate weaving patterns with their ribbons, portraying harmonious relationships with one another, and at the same time demonstrating the higher deeds accomplished by the community as a whole. This is a collaborative social art. May Day reinforces our need for community and each other. The more we unite and the community grows, the higher we can reach and unfold the greater missions of life and the world together.
Depending on the curriculum of each grade, festival life during the school year may include celebrations from many traditions and religious holidays from around the world. This often includes Jewish holidays, Indian festivals, Japanese customs and holidays, Spanish festivals and Native American celebrations. Our school welcomes parents and extended family to share their festivals, traditions and celebrations with their student’s class and our school.
Cedarwood Waldorf School values its community. Festival life allows us to guide our school through each season as individuals and as families—these celebrations provide a rhythm and bring meaning to the changing of the seasons and the passage of time.