At Cedarwood School, we embrace the changing rhythms of the calendar year through a variety of festivals and activities. We feel that participation by children and their parents in these festivals brings meaningful strengthening to our gatherings. As a Waldorf School, we acknowledge a variety of festivals that reflect the beliefs present in our community, including seasonal, Christian, Jewish and other holidays that parents want to share with their class and school. We take notice of the seasonal changes taking place in the natural world and incorporate these changes into the class curriculum.
We gather together to share assemblies, play performances, special holidays and functions to celebrate our community. Families are encouraged to participate in both schoolwide and classroom activities, and to bring similar celebrations into their own homes. It is the strong adherence to maintaining the daily and seasonal rhythms that brings healing to children and adults, and helps directly to support Waldorf education for the child. Some dates listed below are subject to change. Please see the school calendar for those changes.
First Day of School
We celebrate the first day of school as a beginning of the child’s journey for that year. This is a special time for our new first-grade class as they move into their room in a celebratory fashion to start their school year.
All parents are strongly encouraged to attend this gathering of adults, presented by faculty and council members. Information and the parent handbook are discussed, questions answered, and an overview of the curriculum is presented.
“Warm Summer Days Are Ending.
Mother Nature Soon Will Rest.
The Days Are Growing Shorter.
All the Animals Are Seeking Their Nests.
All of God’s Creation Hears the Seasons Changing Sigh.
Only We as Human Beings Can Keep
Our Inner Fire Burning High.
So Before the Earth Is Sleeping
Under Her Cover of Golden Leaves
Let Us Gently Bless and Caress Her
With a Star Shower of Water Beads.”
The festival of Michaelmas is celebrated on Sept. 29 in Waldorf schools around the world, symbolizing the true meaning of this time of the year. As the warmth of the summer sun begins to wane and the cool of the autumn seeps into our days, gifts of warmth and strength from the golden sun come down to the earth to sustain us through the cold and dark time of winter. The meteor showers are at their height during this time, sending heavenly iron down to the earth. The trees absorb the color of the sun in their leaves, creating a beautiful sight to behold before they turn their tips downward and fall to the ground. The glory in the garden is abundant with the ripening of the fruits and vegetables to harvest, so as to nourish us during the time of year when very little outer growth occurs.
There are many different stories that have been told of St. Michael and the Dragon, each one depicting the warmth of the heart and the strength of the will to overcome the greatest of challenges presented to us in our soul the gifts of warmth and strength coming our way so as to glow and to grow from within during the cold months ahead.
At Cedarwood School, we celebrate Michaelmas in a simple, yet meaningful way with the children. All of the classes meet on the playground to sing together and to give a gift to Mother Earth to take with her into her winter’s rest. A biodynamic preparation is stirred during the morning by the older children. Then each child receives a small branch of greenery to dip into the organic preparation, sprinkling it over the earth, giving her our blessings and our thanks for all that we receive from her. This rich and nourishing preparation will seep into the earth, and when the trees are bare and the garden appears to be dead, tremendous inner workings will take place below the ground on which the children play!
Lantern Walk at Martinmas
This evening celebration starts at dusk on a mid-November date, as we gather in a nearby forested area for a bonfire and a hike through the woods, holding our lanterns made in the classes. This is the symbol of St. Martin of Tours, who was a generous knight, sharing his cloak and his personal warmth with others. The lanterns’ gentle light and sweet singing lead us through the cool darkness to find hot spiced cider waiting, then home to bed to dream of this magical time.
St. Nicholas Day
On Dec. 6, children leave their shoes out somewhere to see if this jolly saint will bring a small treat. Often this charming custom is carried out at home, too. This saint was a bishop who helped others with golden coins, and he often leaves nuts and apples as treats.
Classes celebrate this important holiday with games, menorahs, stories and singing.
We offer a special recognition for Advent with the Winter Spiral. The faculty creates a spiral of greenery and shells, stones, wooden carved items and more in the gym. In the evening of the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the pre-K and kindergarten families gather to walk the spiral. The next day, each grade takes time out of the school day to walk the spiral with their classmates. Children take an apple with a candle inserted to the middle of the spiral, light the candle, and place it on the spiral in a special place. As the children walk the spiral, the light grows and grows to reflect on the solemn and beautiful faces present. For fire safety, we recommend that girls wear their hair back and wear short dresses.
St. Lucia Day
Dec. 13 brings the legend of this third-century Italian saint who arrived in a famine to save the people of Sweden. She is often shown wearing a white dress with a red belt and a crown of candles. This tradition is carried out by our eighth-grade students: One girl dresses as Santa Lucia, her classmates dressed in white, and together they visit each kindergarten and grade, singing softly and delivering the gift of sweet rolls in the shape of an S.
Magical Winter Faire
The first Saturday in December is set aside each year for our Magical Winter Faire. This is a wonderful day of festive celebration for the students, families and extended Waldorf community. The school is transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with handcrafts, games, performances, treats and an artisan marketplace. See our Web page regarding the Magical Winter Faire for more information.
Often a group of community members will gather to celebrate this important day with singing and caroling in and around the school on the days of Dec. 20 and 21.
Jan. 6 is the day of the Three Kings Celebration for the school. Often a teacher or parent will bake a large sweet bread with three almonds hidden inside. The class eats the bread and whoever finds the almonds wears a golden crown.
Martin Luther King’s Birthday
We observe and support a school holiday on this important day.
Each class will celebrate this day in an individual way. Please keep in mind that if you send Valentines, include every child in the class.
Spring Solstice (March 20-21)
Often a little celebration is held to mark this passing into the new season of spring. A short, before-school gathering of snacks and flowers has been held in recent years.
We celebrate the changing from darkness into light and opportunities for transformation (egg to chick), new beginnings and rebirth.
May 1 is the day when we dance around the maypole at our school, dressed in white. Families come to the midday celebration and bring a picnic or potluck lunch to celebrate this time of flowers and sunny days.
The last day of school is a half day. Grade students participate in an all-school handshake to close out the year, followed by a treat from the administration to thank parents for their continued commitment and support. We often continue the celebration with a potluck picnic.