Waldorf Schools and the Darkest Time of the Year December 14 2015
In Waldorf schools, December with its disturbing weeks of the deepest darkness begins with the Winter Garden. The children experience darkness and the return of the light as each individual candle gets lit and the light fills the room with increasing brilliance. The picture of the light of each of us in community is a perfect one. Hope and confidence in the light’s return is expressed quite literally.
Many Waldorf schools celebrate St. Nicholas’s Day on December 6th. St. Nicholas loves children and his stories are all of rescuing children from danger, unkindness, starvation, and despair. He makes a picture of heavenly light for children: light that sees all things, forgives all things, and aids in the repair of any wrongdoing. St. Nicholas makes a picture for children of how their actions can bring more light into the world or more darkness and trouble. All children know from St. Nicholas that they emanate light and that this light is always seen.
Santa Lucia Day then comes on December 16th. Her stories are of feeding the poor, taking risks on behalf of the needy of the world, bringing the light of kindness and hope to those who are hopeless. Santa Lucia is dressed all in white and wears a crown of lighted candles. Once more the children see the coming of the light, borne by a good human being who lavishes care on those who need help.
Hanukkah comes with its story of lights that burned longer than is seemed possible, of courage to find the means to keep the lights burning, and of determination to stay awake to keep the lights alive. Here in these eight holy days comes the picture of the light of human consciousness.
Then comes Christmas with its brilliant lights. Christmas comes four days after the sun turns from a weakening thing to a strengthening force. From December 21st, at the solstice, the shortest, darkest day of the year, the light grows more powerful and the days grow longer. Christmas with its picture of the birth of the light makes this picture potent.
All the festivals of light in these darkest weeks of the year are designed for this: to make us understand our own inner light and its power to drive darkness away. Children see this each year in Waldorf schools and take these pictures into their lives as a resounding promise of their own purpose in life – to bring light. The darker the circumstances, the more brightly their lights will shine.
May we all comprehend the Light this year, and hear in our hearts the songs of the coming of the light. These might come in a whisper at first but can build to joyful and loud caroling by the end of the month, by the time the sun turns again to bring warmth and increasing shining brilliance.