Library Lady's Corner
Waldorf Festivals and Santa Lucia (St. Lucy's Day) December 13 2021Recently, we spoke to a Waldorf school-educated and recent college graduate about an experience she had had in second grade. She spoke of how this childhood event had helped get her through difficult times during her college years. The picture of this experience gave her more confidence in her studies and further underlined the importance of developing clear thinking. She held an image in her mind of the light shining good, pure thinking out into the world. She has cherished this picture and expressed her wish that all children could have this.
What is the Winter Garden or Advent Spiral in a Waldorf School? November 29 2021
Garden of Light
In a Winter Garden,
Dark the Earth below,
Earth is waiting, waiting, waiting
For her seeds to grow.
Many young children are afraid of the dark. Actually, many grown ups are afraid of the dark too. Late autumn and early winter, when the days grow short and the darkness dominates everything, festivals help mark the time until the light begins to fill the days again.
First there is Michaelmas or The Feast of St. Michael: This is at Autumn equinox when day is exactly as long as night. The stories at this time help us gather courage. This courage serves us when Halloween comes and the earth breathes out its last of the year’s efforts of growth and the harvest is done. The quiet is absolute and scary! Death is apparent in all the fields. The day of the Dead in Latin cultures is at this time. Next is followed, in the United States, with Thanksgiving. Our hearts relax and experience gratitude when we realize the abundance of the harvest and the good fortune we have to be alive. Gathering with family and close friends to prepare for the winter season gives us comfort.
During the month of December, the days grow their darkest. In Waldorf schools, just after Thanksgiving, there is a celebration called the Winter Garden, or the Advent Garden. Advent means “To Come” and aside from this term used in some religious celebrations, it is meant to announce the coming of the light.
Karl König, anthroposophical doctor in the early part of the twentieth century, invented this celebration for Camphill Villages, to give community members a way to picture the need for light in the darkness, a way to anticipate mindfully the return of the light. Many cultures and religions have celebrations at this December time of year: Hanukkah, Christmas, and Druid Solstice ceremonies to name a few..
For the Advent Spiral or Winter Garden, children come into a darkened room filled with a spiral of evergreens on the floor. Teachers carefully prepare this spiral of living greens. The evergreens make a path for children to walk in a spiral to the center. The evergreen spiral is dotted with crystals, flowering plants, and other treasures. In the center of the spiral is a candle. Into the dark room comes one child carrying a lighted taper. Often this child is dressed in white like an angel. Walking slowly around the spiral to show the watching children how to do it slowly and mindfully, the "angel" then lights the candle waiting at the center of the spiral.
Then, one by one each child goes to the start of the spiral, receives from a teacher an apple with a candle inserted into a carved hole in the apple. The child walks the spiral with the unlit candle, goes to the center and lights the candle on the central candle that was lighted by the “angel” of the Winter Garden, the first child. Once the candle is lit, the child walks carefully back through the spiral and finds a place on the spiral to set the apple with the now-lit candle down. Then the next child comes and does the same thing. Each child has a turn until all the children have had the chance to light a candle and place it on the spiral. Music plays and fills the room while the children walk the garden and light their candles one by one.
By the end of the ceremony, the spiral is bright with light, illuminated with all the children’s candles. This offers the children a powerful picture of light in the darkness, of one’s candle contributing to the great light with others in the dark world, of the coming of light from each of us. It offers a reminder of the reliable turning of the sun from weakness to strength each year at the Winter Solstice. Waiting quietly in the darkness for the return of the light, contributing a little bit from each person to make the world bright, are important lessons to learn for life.
Few words and powerful pictures offer the best kind of learning.
The Waldorf Lantern Walk around the time of Martinmas November 18 2021Many Waldorf schools host a Lantern Walk in November and around Martinmas, the feast day for St. Martin of Tours — also Veterans’ Day in the United States. St. Martin, the patron saint of beggars and outcasts, was known for his unassuming nature and ability to bring light and warmth to the impoverished.
Saint Martin of Tours and Martinmas November 10 2021The feast of St. Martin coincides with Veterans' Day which is fitting since St. Martin of Tours started as a conscripted soldier in the Roman army and quickly rose to a leadership position. Legend has it that St. Martin was much beloved by the soldiers he commanded for he tended to ride behind his men to ensure that no
Book Review: Award Winning "Helping Children on Their Way" August 16 2017Waldorf Publications is proud to be recognized by Mom’s Choice Awards with Helping Children on Their Way
Elizabeth Auer has assembled a remarkable group of educators to write about many aspects of supporting children in their different and varied “stuck places” along the road to a balanced development for life.
There’s No Minute Like the Last Minute! December 16 2016Waldorf Publications and the Research Institute for Waldorf Education have many fine possibilities for thoughtful gifts when thoughtfulness in the hectic season becomes hard to muster.
Consider the caliber and depth of some of these gifts — remember, books and subscriptions keep giving long into the future!
All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day: the Christian Counterpart to Samhain or Hallowe’en October 30 2016Those who grew up going to a parochial school of any kind in the Christian streams of faith know that Hallowe’en is the contraction of Hallow’s Evening. The pagan practices of Samhain or harvest festivals that include the awareness of the thin veil that exists at this time of year between the dead and the living were deeply rooted in ancient cultures. Read More...
Samhain –– Hallowe’en begins in Ireland October 26 2016It figures that the land of Banshees, fairies and Leprechauns would be the starting place for a holiday like Hallowe’en. The Celtic word “Samhain” is actually pronounced “Sow-in.” This word literally translates as “summer’s ending.” After the harvest was gathered and stored, livestock had been sorted for slaughter or breeding, and the earth was perceived to have exhausted herself, this festival of Samhain was one of four high festivals of the Druid religion.
Why Do Girls Never Slay the Dragon? October 06 2016During the Michaelmas season there are many stories of dragons terrorizing kingdoms. The pattern is, for the most part, repeated. A frightening dragon appears breathing fire and destroying whole villages, and a princess is inevitably frightened and weeps helplessly. A knight appears who courageously faces the dragon, slays the dragon, rescues the princess and earns her as a bride for his heroic actions. Read More...
A Deeper Look into the Days of Michaél September 29 2016
The season gives the signs now of the turning of summer to autumn. In the air, before the green of the leaves begin to blush, the air gives an occasional whisper of fresh chill to herald the changes that will come. Even in places in which there is not a dramatic change between seasons, reports of subtle changes as the earth turns and the parade of the seasons rolls onward come from those sensitive to expressions from the Earth.
The Perseid outburst or meteor shower in mid to late August each year marks....
Waldorf Schools and the Darkest Time of the Year December 14 2015In 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.
The Winter Garden in Waldorf Schools December 01 2015During the month of December, the days grow their darkest. In Waldorf schools, just after Thanksgiving, there is a celebration called the Winter Garden, or the Advent Garden. Advent means “To Come” and aside from this term used in some religious celebrations, it is meant to announce the coming of the light.
As Michaelmas Approaches..... September 22 2015
Why Do Waldorf Schools Celebrate Michaelmas?
Excerpt from "Waldorf Journal Project #15 - Michaelmas"
Summer’s haze vanishes when the clear skies and crisp air of September arrive. This is the time we establish our rhythms for the year; in many respects it is more of a New Year than January 1. It is a time of separation and individualization. The cool, pristine air wakes us from our summer daze and our thinking becomes more precise. With the beginning of school, we send our young ones off with memories of our own education etched indelibly into our own personalities. It is a time when we naturally think back upon our own lives.
The Rose Ceremony in Waldorf Schools May 27 2015
In Waldorf schools effort is made to observe significant moments in childhood and to celebrate these with rituals that have meaning for children. The Rose Ceremony in Waldorf schools around the world has a long tradition reaching back to the very first Waldorf school.
The Rose Ceremony happens twice each year: on the first day of school and on the last day of school. The ceremony at the school’s beginning is designed for the oldest students in the school (8th grade or 12th grade) to welcome in the youngest children... READ MORE
Discovering the Waldorf Pentathlon: An Overview May 20 2015
All across North America during the month of May Waldorf schools gather fifth graders for the annual Pentathlon. Three to seven different schools’ fifth grade classes gather at one hosting Waldorf school to compete in this annual celebration of fifth grade grace, skill, and determination, as a crowning salute to the curriculum of the fifth grade in Waldorf schools around the world. We owe gratitude to the “Spacial Dynamics Movement” for developing this rewarding tradition that gives schools a day of social interaction as well as affirmation of the curriculum, specifically Greek history... READ MORE
May Day in the Waldorf School May 01 2015May Day is a Northern Hemisphere festival (and is also called International Workers’ Day) and is celebrated in many Waldorf schools. It is an ancient tradition of celebrating the arrival of summer. Known as Beltane in Celtic lands, and celebrated by the Romans recognizing the goddess Flora, May Day is a popular tradition. The May Pole Dance is a joyful experience, and often the center of the May Day celebration. The May Pole often bears garlands and symbolizes the tree of life and growth of spring vegetation. This festival is celebrated as an entire school community. In most Waldorf schools, children from each grade take turns doing a May Pole dance. The patterns get more complicated as the children mature. Whole classes of children prepare “May Baskets,” hand-woven baskets of new spring flowers that are then hung on the fence posts or door handles or front steps of neighbors or loved ones to wish them a happy spring.
Pre Holiday Sale AND A Free Book! November 22 2014
Start your holiday shopping now and get 25% off ALL books and get a free copy of "Gazing into the Eyes of the Future" just in time for St. Nicholas day on December 6th! Make sure to use promo code PREHOL14 during checkout!
Michaelmas, as the Library Lady sees it! September 29 2014
Every now and then after the school year gets underway and the Michaelmas buzz begins in the classrooms, I hear a Waldorf parent or two whisper "what is Michaelmas?" It's a question I hear frequently and one that I love to answer!
September 29, midway between the northern hemisphere's summer and winter solstices, the ancient festival of Michaelmas is celebrated.As summer's warmth fades, and the cool crispness of autumn falls upon us, mother nature's fruits and vegetables ripen for harvesting. Her gifts help sustain us through the dark cold days of winter and remind us to summon our own gifts and inner strength to help balance our internal light with the darkness of the season.