Sometimes it is hard to know what to do with summer and the small child under the age of 7: is it better to keep the Circle Time/Story Time intact and going or to take a complete break? Some mothers decide to stick to one or two seasonal songs and fingerplays and not do a full Circle Time, and to still tell a story a few days a week. They leave the other days open for outings in berry pickings, lake swimming, creek exploring or beach fun.
There is one festival coming up to prepare for, and that is St. John’s Tide. You can read more about summer and that particular festival here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/07/01/celebrating-summer-with-small-children-a-waldorf-perspective/ and here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/06/09/midsummers-day-st-johns-tide-day/
To me, this is a very important festival. It is the day in which the sunlight hours begin to actually decrease, and exactly a half year later we celebrate Christmas. The book “Festivals With Children” by Brigitte Barz has many interesting suggestions regarding how to celebrate this special day and its significance. She recommends a festival table set with a picture of St. John with a white lily to the left of the picture and a rose to the right of the picture to represent the beginning , the innocence of man versus the earth, the transformation of man into the future.
This book makes a beautiful comment about the Feast of St. John on page 74-75:
“John the Baptist was the one who prepared the way for Christ. He serves this function still today…”The way in which the inner soul of man is to be prepared is indicated by Luke’s invocation of the prophet Isaiah: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth.” (Luke 3:4f) Mountains and valleys are not only external objects of nature, they are also images of conditions within the soul. We experience them in the life of feelings, as we swing between the heights of jubilant ecstasy to the depths of depression and despair. The task of John is to hold the balance between these two extremes…..Of course, we cannot present the powerful words of John to children, at least not their content. However, we can provide an image for them of the path of inner development, in the form of the lily and the rose.”
Here are some suggestions for stories and songs. Please add your favorites in the comment box!
- For the five and a half and six year old: “Goldener” and “The Three Oranges” found in “Plays For Puppets” by Bronja Zahlingen.
- “The Castle Under The Sea” for ages 6 and up – see Main Lesson
- A simple “Midsummer’s Eve” story of half a page can be found in the Wynstones Summer book. It may work for ages four and up depending upon your child.
- “Holidays” – a story in the back of “All Year Round” for the pre-school child
- Suzanne Down had a lovely story about a fish that was in a back issue of Living Crafts…Does anyone out there remember the exact title or issue?
Stories For the Feast of St. John:
- The Six Swans by Brothers Grimm (ages 7 and up)
- The Goose Girl by Brothers Grimm (ages 7 and up)
- Faithful John (ages 9 and up)
- The Journey To The Sun, a Slovak folktale (ages 7 and up)
(These recommendations come from the book, “The Easter Story Book” by Ineke Verschuren)
- St. John’s Gift in the Wynstones Summer book – ages six and half and up
Songs for Summer:
Song of the Midsummer Sun found in “All Year Round” – page 106
“Over In The Meadow”
- A St. John’s Tide walk
- Inner work for the adult around raising our children with reverence and gratitude
- Making Herbal bath bags, collecting and drying herbs
- Making rose petal jam and rose petal sandwiches – see “All Year Round”
- Making a gold spiral or suns to hang up – see “All Year Round”
The Nature Table:
Beehive with bees and Summer Fairies for St. John’s Tide
For a more regular summer nature display, shells, a sand castle made from starch and wet sand, little boats of bark and twigs, little birds or swans with a pond are all suggested in the book, “The Nature Corner” on page 51, older edition.
Hope that helps you get planning. For those of you wanting to read more, there is a little book entitled simply, “St John’s: An Introductory Reader” by Rudolf Steiner where Matthew Barton has added commentary that may be valuable to you. An important thing for Christians to do would be to attend church and celebrate this wonderful day!
Please take what resonates with you -