I love this quote from “Waldorf Education: A Family Guide” as edited by Pamela Johnson Fenner and Karen L. Rivers:
“As Steiner writes in “Spiritual Bells of Easter, I”:
Festivals are meant to link the human soul with all that lives and weaves in the great universe. We feel our souls expanding in a new way during these days at the beginning of spring…It is at this time of year, the time of Passover and Easter, that human souls can find that there lives…in the innermost core of their being, a fount of eternal, divine existence.
If we can begin to penetrate the cosmic significance of the mystery of this season, the rebirth of nature, the freeing of the Israelites, and the death and resurrection of Christ, we begin to understand that Easter is as A.P. Shepherd writes.”…the Festival of the spiritual future of humanity, the Festival of Hope and the Festival of Warning.”
Shrove Tuesday was this week. This day grew from the practice of obtaining absolution –to be “shriven” or “shrove” before the forty-day fasting of Lent. Years ago, this was a very strict dietary fast and meat and eggs and milk were used up before Lent started. Pancake-making and tossing was often tradition on this special day, and I am sure many of you are familiar with the custom of Carnival (Karneval in Germany) leading up to Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.
Ash Wednesday began with the practice of wearing a sackcloth for Lent and covering one’s head with ashes.
“All Year Round” has this to say:”Lent has been kept as a time of penance, of strict self-denial, and for contemplating the sufferings and temptations of Jesus Christ as he fasted forty days in the wilderness. Nowadays, the imposed strictness of Lent has been largely relaxed, and more emphasis placed on using the time to strengthen the inner life through spiritual education or appropriate self-discipline. The long fasts of Lent and Advent were once used to make pilgrimages or “progresses” to holy places. The word “progress implies not only the outer journey, but also the inner journey of the pilgrim – his progress in self-development.”
So, without further ado, here are some traditional ways to celebrate Lent:
- Fasting and eating cleansing foods such as dandelion, nettles, leeks, chevril. In anthroposophic terms, we talk about doing this as an example for children for this season.
- Spring Cleaning!
- Spending time away from outer stimulation and more time with an inward focus.
- For a young child, “All Year Round” recommends spending time with your child each day doing one small thing to develop a Lenten mood. This could include sitting together and listening to the birds sing in the morning in silence, taking time to look for the moon each night.
- Decor: a small unlit candle, bare twigs on the Nature Table, a bowl of dry earth or ashes on the Nature Table (you could plant seeds there on Palm Sunday so something grows during Holy Week).
- Celebrate “Mothering Sunday” –the fourth Sunday in Lent was traditionally when young people working away from home were given the day off to visit their mothers. Traditional gifts include Sinnel Cake (like a fruit cake) and violets.
Some of the traditions we have include eating pancakes on Fat Tuesday (Shrove Tuesday), setting up our Nature Table as above, eating cleansing food and reducing certain components of our diet, participating in a Bible study for Lent (this year I am studying a part of the book of Psalms), reducing computer time and spending more time together as a family.
One craft to consider for yourself this time of year is wet- on- wet watercolor painting. I painted the other night for an hour or so, making purple from red and blue. It is very meditative and calming to do this, and the pictures you paint can then be cut into crosses for your Nature Table, or you can make a transparent part in your paintings with tissue paper of different colors.
I will be writing a separate post regarding the celebration of Palm Sunday and the Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday.