The Easter festival with young children:
In Waldorf Schools around the world special emphasis is placed on celebrating festivals. These events are generally connected with ‘The Spirit of the Sun’ – the force that generates the very life of our planet and dictates the seasonal rhythms. This force is known to us as the ‘Christ Force’ or ‘Christ Impulse” and is not specific to one religion or another – it is the impulse that made us all regardless of our colour or creed.
The very first festival that is celebrated in Waldorf Schools is the most important of the year – Easter…
In Kindy, we bring this special event to the children in a way that is appropriate to the very young. Our nature table abounds with decorated, blown eggs hanging from the Easter tree, chickens and hares jumping about and bowls filled with sprouting seeds – demonstrating new life coming into being.
During the three weeks leading up to Good Friday we tell special Easter stories and sing about the approaching festival. Our Easter circle is filled with songs about the chicken that brings new life in the egg and the hare that brings us the Easter egg, which holds Christ’s message of eternal renewal. We are singing about the apple that is filled with the star consciousness that brought the first life to bear, and the trees beginning to colour; all the things that typify the seasonal changes that are only just beginning…
It is the extra-ordinary things that make the most impact on children and thus, it is wonderful to give them surprises beyond the material. In my house, the night before Easter Sunday saw my two daughters leaving a red apple on the doorstep for the Easter Hare to find the next morning. The children knew all about the magic star that lives in every apple that will sustain whoever eats it. When the girls got up the next day, they always found the left over apple core to indicate the Hare had found his way to our door once again. This was the sign to race outside with baskets to go on the “egg hunt.” Once in the garden they started their search and lo and behold, scattered under bushes everywhere were beautifully coloured hard-boiled eggs with the occasional chocolate one dotted here and there. Once all the eggs were found they were evenly distributed between the girls. The chocolate ones were of most interest – of course, but the coloured eggs sat glowing in the basket under the Easter tree, ready to share with the cousins later that day.
Customs such as these are the stuff that childhood memories are made of and the way to make festivals meaningful at home…
Fiona McVey – Kindy 4 Teacher
Excerpt from Pabulum in 2019, by Festival Coordinator Sarah Boyle
Looking out my window to a cold grey dawn, with raining pounding on the roof and the trees swaying quite dramatically in the gusty winds I know that Winter, Makuru, is truly here and heralding the Winter festival. As we spiral in towards the Winter Solstice, that inner place where we can gather, nurture, set aside things no longer serving us, we will be celebrating that special time of the year where the Primary School and High School students, along with their parents, gather together for the longest night of the year.
In the High School students will be gathering with their guardian class in a special space to meditate, talk and share this intense time of year and also walking a Winter spiral in Williams Hall, culminating at the Bonfire in community with the Primary School which is a much beloved event in our festival year. High school parents will be having their own meditative event, a spiral walk and of course the Bonfire to finish the evening.
In the Primary School each class has chosen a plant or a tree, found on the PWS block and over the last few weeks have spent time observing, counting how many we have on the block (it’s amazing how many of each species chosen are here) painting, drawing and writing about it. This immersion in the nature of our wonderous block has (in an indigenous sense) shown us the song lines of the plants, drawn invisibly by the children in their work. We will all come together in the classrooms in the evening of the Winter festival and share this work, a Winter lantern walk and Spiral walk ending with the excitement and warmth of the Bonfire, shared in community with the High School.
The Michael Festival is above all a festival of will; a festival to awaken consciousness of the struggle between Michael and the Dragon. The legendary picture of Michael fighting the dragon provides us with hope and inspiration in overcoming the limitations of our own lower natures. Through courage and steadfastness in spiritual striving; through inner work and outer deeds which resolve on the good, we can support the work of Michael in freedom. Our thoughts and deeds have consequences which help or hinder the work of Michael in the Spiritual World.
As the guiding spirit of our time, Michael is concerned with human freedom and moral responsibility. The Primary and High School festival activities and games at the Perth Waldorf School are planned and enacted to encourage imagination, initiative and co-operation; so enabling the children to walk some way towards Michael.
This is a festival of courage, challenge and team work, with team focused games, ending in a “The Knight and the Dragon” Tableau.