Celebrating the season’s festivals is one of the most beautiful aspects to Waldorf education, and a favorite with children as well. Here is our collection of the many of the season’s festivals (for 2011), and a few resources to help make each a cherished tradition for years to come.
Halloween :: October 31st
Samhain :: October 31st-November 1st
Guy Fawkes Night (UK) :: November 5th
Martinmas :: November 11th
Thanksgiving (US) :: November 28th
Advent Begins :: December 1st
St. Nicholas Day :: December 6th
Saint Lucia’s Day :: December 13th
Advent: Means “coming”. The season of Advent begins on the closest Sunday to November 30th, and is a period of making ready for the coming of the divine light of Christmas or the return of the light of the Winter Solstice.
St. Nicholas Day: One of the most important holidays in many European countries, St. Nicholas Day opens the gift giving season in many parts of the world. For most, St. Nicholas Day begins on December 6th, and it is believed that Santa Claus has his origins in the life and celebration of St. Nicholas.
St. Lucia: December 13th follows the longest night of the year in Sweden, and this is the day that the festival of St. Lucia is celebrated. In this celebration, the eldest daughter is dressed in a white gown and a crown of seven candles placed upon her head.
Winter Solstice: The shortest day of the year, and the day that marks the return of the light that began to fade with the Summer Solstice. From this day forward, until the Summer Solstice, each day will become progressively longer. The Winter Solstice also marks the time in each of our lives where we celebrate the period of intense inner reflection that the darkening days can bring, and a return to the outward nature of our communities and lives with the return of longer days and warmer weather.
Las Posadas: Is a nine-day celebration that began in Spain, and that is now celebrated mainly in Mexico. Las Posadas begins on December 16th and ends December 24th. It is a yearly tradition that celebrates the trials that Mary and Joseph went through before finding a place for Jesus to be born.
Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights in the Jewish faith. This holiday lasts eight days, and commemorates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.E.
Christmas: Held on December 25th, this is the celebration of the birth of Christ in the Christian faith.
Kwanzaa: Is a week long celebration held in the United States honoring universal African Heritage and culture. This holiday is marked by participants lighting a Kinara (candle holder), and is observed from December 26 to January 1 every year.
New Year’s Eve: In western culture, it is a celebration of the final day of the Gregorian Year, and the beginning of a new year on the Gregorian Calendar. Other religions and cultures celebrate the coming of the New Year at different times and in different ways.
Twelfth Night: Is a festival that is celebrated in some branches of Christianity that marks the coming of the Epiphany and the conclusion of the Twelve Days of Christmas.
Epiphany: Also known as Three Kings Day and Twelfth Day, is celebrated on January 6th and is the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas. The feast celebrates the manifestation of God taking human form through Jesus.
Plough Monday: Plough Monday is the traditional start of the English agricultural year. It is usually celebrated on the Monday after the celebration of the Epiphany, and signals a return to “regular” work after the Christmas season.
Candlemas: Is a cross quarter day that falls midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, and in many traditions is considered the beginning of spring. Throughout history, this has been the traditional time to begin to turn the soil over for the coming planting season. It is a time when the promises of renewal from the winter solstice begin to take shape, and we begin the process of coming out of the hibernation of a long winter. In the Christian tradition, this is also the celebration of Mary’s presentation of Jesus at the temple.
Brigit (or Imbolc): A festival that marks the sun’s growing strength, and the first signs of Spring. Brigid is also one of the four Celtic cross quarter days.
St. Valentine’s Day: An annual celebration of love and affection, Valentine’s Day was originally named for a Christian Martyr, Valentine, and was established by Pope Gelasius I in 500 AD. It was deleted by the Roman Calendar of Saints in 1969, but is still celebrated and honored to this day.
The following is a list of wonderful books and websites that will give you more information on each of these festivals (as well as many others), and that will help you and your family celebrate each to its fullest.
The Children’s Year by Stephanie Cooper, Christine Fynes-Clinton and Marye Rowling
All Year Round by Ann Druitt, Christine Fynes-Clinton and Marje Rowling
Festivals Together: A Guide to Multi-Cultural Celebration by Sue Fitzjohn, Minda Weston and Judy Large
Little Acorn Learning : Eileen Foley Straiton
A Child’s Seasonal Treasury by Betty Jones
Circle Round by Starhawk, Diane Baker and Anne Hill
Festivals, Family and Food by Diana Carey and Judy Large
Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children by Sharifa Oppenheimer
Beyond the Rainbow Bridge: Nurturing our Children fro Birth to Seven by Barbara J. Patterson, Pamela Bradley and and Jean Riordan
This piece was compiled by the editors of Rhythm of The Home.
Rhythm of the Home is an online magazine for families that focuses on creating with children, nature explorations, seasonal celebrations, conscious parenting, and mindfulness in all that we do.