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Festivals

The community of HVWS comes together at certain points of the year to honor the human being’s relationship to the natural world. These festivals are experienced in a nondenominational way in relation to the rhythms of the earth, seasons, and elements. The following are a glimpse of some of the festivals celebrated each year at HVWS.

May Fair

May



Hal-an-toe, Jolly rumble-o,
We were up long before the day-o 
To welcome in the Summer Sun, 
To welcome in the May-o 
For summer is a-comin’ in, 
And winter’s gone away-o!



Each year we honor Spring with traditional dances around the Maypole.  Students and their families first gather for a picnic.  Then, bedecked in flower garlands, the Early Childhood students sing and weave ribbons around the Maypole.  The Grades students follow, performing Maypole and Morris Dances.  This is a joyful celebration and opportunity for the entire HVWS community to come together.
Each year we honor Spring with traditional dances around the Maypole.  


Michaelmas

September
The Michaelmas festival honors St. Michael, the mythical Dragon-slayer astride a white steed, who bears a mighty iron sword flashing like a meteor. Michael's legend symbolizes the autumnal resurgence of human strength, willpower and striving to overcome our inner Dragons—laziness, greed, doubt, fear of the future—who may have crept over us unnoticed during summer's dreamy warmth and forgetfulness.

There is a feeling of new beginnings at Michaelmas. It is also the season of the Jewish New Year and the solemn Day of Atonement. The school year is beginning, vacation is past, and many cultural endeavors begin anew. Every September HVWS honors the Michaelmas festival with songs, games, and a wonderful play featuring the Grade School students.

Martinmas

November
Celebrated in northern Europe, this holiday commemorates St. Martin, who as a young man passed under an archway in the city of Amiens and discovered a poor beggar huddled there. The man was nearly naked, shivering with cold, and had received no alms to assist him. On seeing him, Martin took his own cape from his shoulders, tore the garment in half, and covered the poor man to warm him. The following night Martin had a dream in which he saw Christ wearing the same piece of his cape. The experience confirmed in him his devotion to all humankind, regardless of their station in life. 
 
Martin went on to become the patron saint of beggars, drunkards, and outcasts. He was known for his gentleness, his unassuming nature, and his ability to bring warmth and light to those who were previously in darkness. On the evening of Martinmas, children in Waldorf schools world-wide remember St. Martin with a festival of lanterns they have made. As we carry our lit lanterns into the woods at dusk, we symbolically represent the light of our humanity which transcends winter's darkness, and the light of love and generosity illuminating the world. The stars, moons and suns with which the lanterns are decorated attest to the heavenly origins of these shining human qualities.

Advent Spiral

December
The gift of the light we shall thankfully take,
But it shall not be alone for our sake.
The more we give light, the one to the other,
It grows and gives light, and shines even farther 
Until every heart, by love set aflame,
In every place great joy shall proclaim: 
Not long shall continue the darkness of year;
The light draws near.
 
Each December, the HVWS students walk the solemn Advent Spiral path. The path is made from pine boughs, crystals, and shells. The walk through the spiral represents the child walking through life on earth. Each child holds a candle supported by an apple candleholder.  The apple represents the nourishment that the earth gives us. The light of the candles invites us to be clear and bright of thought and warm of heart. We remain silent during this celebration, allowing us to be as reverent as possible in the beauty and magic of the setting.  Beginning in December 2012, HVWS has offered an opportunity for family and friends of students to walk the Advent Spiral as well.

A Note About the Festivals We Celebrate

The word “Christian,” as commonly used, generally refers to a religion and religious dogma. In the Waldorf School we do not believe that any dogma is appropriate to the world’s current stage of consciousness, so the school does not adhere to or promote any particular religion’s beliefs.

What we do believe is that behind all the great world religions were individuals who experienced the reality of the spiritual world, and tried to relate their experience to others. By teaching the world’s cultures in our classes, to the best of our ability, we attempt to acknowledge the unifying spark of the spiritual nature of all human beings.
 
We try to celebrate this spirit of the human being in our festival life by marking the traditional European festivals that are connected to the seasons and rhythms of nature most akin to our North American heritage and culture. Many of these are traditionally “Christian” festivals, which we consciously celebrate in a new way that seeks to be inclusive and respectful of the diversity of ways in which spirit has historically been revealed in the world.


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