Waldorf Festivals and Santa Lucia (St. Lucy's Day) December 13 2021
The Power of Childhood Memories
Recently, 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.
The picture was of Santa Lucia and how this graduate had been chosen to be Santa Lucia in her second-grade year, on December 13, or Santa Lucia Day. She had the honor of leading the class in singing throughout her school and leaving treats, prepared by parents, for each class they visited. The candles in her crown were the light by which the class followed. As she led her class, this young woman understood more and more deeply the power of the light and how it is connected to acts of generosity and kindness — warmth of two kinds.
The story of Santa Lucia is of a young woman who marries a rich nobleman and is thrust into household management beyond her experience. She repeatedly errs on the side of generosity with household staff, local impoverished people, and ultimately, with her lending aid to a neighboring kingdom whose leader doesn’t have the resources to help his people in the face of drought and famine. In the absence of her husband, Lucia offers her husband’s reserves to assist the starving people of another kingdom. On her husband’s return, he discovers that the kindness of his young wife has turned an enemy kingdom into a deeply grateful friend. He is impressed and learns lessons of charity and humility from his open-hearted wife.
Archetypes like this, beyond religious connotations and outside geographical limitations, can be helpful in giving children strong illustrations of the power of love and the power of kindness—much needed qualities in our sometimes harsh times. Searching for these powerful images is the work of Waldorf teachers; to give the children entrusted to their care the substance they need to build these pictures of archetypal and transformative acts of generosity and kindness.
Our Waldorf graduate is a good example of how these pictures unfold over time.