I recently participated in my eighth year of preparing an Advent Spiral with community. Walking an Advent Spiral is often traditional for children in the older kindergarten and early grades within the Waldorf School. The spiral is not a religious ritual and it is also not explained to the children. Instead, walking the spiral is an experiential spiritual act to commemorate the lighting of our own inner light to carry us through the dark months of winter, and letting this let shine out through the darkness of humanity as well.
Within the Waldorf School environment, the Advent Spiral is set up already and magically appears before the children. Sometimes there is an Angel Guide to guide the children through the spiral to the center candle. The children usually hold an apple that has a beeswax candle in it, and then after their candle is lit they set it down on a spot within the spiral as they walk out.
In the home environment, there is a bit more to it since the spiral often needs to be assembled on the spot whilst families are present, especially because often families inspired by this type of festival are spread out throughout a geographic area and coming together from far distances. There are many ways to construct a festival for community; below follows just one way I have seen work well in the past.
So, before the spiral: Continue reading
“For most American households the Thanksgiving celebration has lost much of its original significance. We can remediate the consumer holiday it has become by creating a Thanksgiving gathering and feast in kindergarten for the children and their families, where we give a living example of gratitude and joy for what we have and what we can share together.” – “Celebrating Festivals With Children” by Freya Jaffke
We begin sowing the seeds for Thanksgiving celebration by the observation of all the reverent moments that make up our very ordinary days throughout the entire year. Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the harvest being in, and this has been done in different varying festivals since ancient times. The American Thanksgiving is just one festival of many that exemplifies the manifestation of the harvest as a culmination of the gratitude and reverence we share throughout the year with our children.
Thanksgiving is one of America’s oldest festivals, and one of ten federal holidays declared by the United States Congress. Although schoolchildren often trace it back to the Pilgrims and a harvest gathering, the first national observation of Thanksgiving was actually proclaimed by President George Washington in 1789. Thanksgiving was celebrated erratically after this date by individual states and at different times, and Sarah Hale, editor of the Boston Ladies Magazine and Godey’s Lady’s Book, championed the idea of having a national day of Thanksgiving for nearly 15 years before Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving to be the last Thursday in the month of November in 1863. You can read Lincoln’s proclamation here. It actually took until 1941, when Thanksgiving was proclaimed a national holiday by the United States Congress, to arrive at its current date of the fourth Thursday of each November.
Simple tasks that we can undertake for this festival with small children include Continue reading
This time of Halloween/All Saints Day/All Souls Day and leading into Martinmas leads me to think about light and lanterns. There is a passage from the book “Celebrating Festivals With Children” by Freya Jaffke that I like regarding “Lantern Time”:
“Two lantern festivals mark this time. From the Celtic tradition there is Halloween on October 31, and from Continental Europe we have Martinmas on November 11. Halloween is connected with the earth, and its turnip or pumpkin lanterns are made of fruits from the ground. Martinmas commemorates a human deed of sharing, and its paper lanterns are entirely made by human hand. As the outer light of day diminishes, there is first a kind of afterglow of e earth – the turnip or pumpkin lanterns. Then there is the human spark of kindness we see in the paper lanterns of Martinmas. The light is gradually transformed from the outer light of the sun in summer to the internal spirit light of Advent and Christmas.”
This is a wonderful time of year to think about any changes in rhythm that you want to make as the days grow shorter, the nights longer and colder. It is also a wonderful time to think about bringing light into your home. I know Waldorf teachers who light lanterns whilst the children play and keep lanterns up in the school room until the light of Advent comes. Continue reading
Someone told me today that there are nine weekends left until Christmas Day. Uh, no stress there at all!
That thought made me think about children and gifts and this article written by Pam Leo, author of Connection Parenting, and available over at Waldorf In The Home here. It speaks eloquently about slowing down the season, really choosing how we use our time, and how children love the preparation of the holidays….
Which led me to think about gifts that children love to make and give. I have some tried and true favorites, including: Continue reading
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you!
My own mother died after a very a long illness when I had just turned eight, and I was raised by my paternal grandmother. She had three sisters,and the four of them were very, very close. I also had an amazing maternal grandmother. I was very fortunate to have all of them speaking into my life.
The grandmother who raised me wrote this in honor of mothers everywhere for a mother-daughter banquet at her church long, long before I was born and I share it here with you today: Continue reading
Holy Week is upon us! I wanted to share a few ideas with you all about celebrating Lent and Holy Week. Lent is such a beautiful time. I love what Orthodox Christian priest Anthony Coniaris writes in his book, “ Making God Real in the Orthodox Christian Home”:
It is significant that Lent happens to coincide with Spring in the northern climes. I think there is a wonderful lesson for us in this happy coincidence. Lent should be for all of us a period of placing ourselves in the position where the best things can happen for us. That position for Orthodox Christians is the presence of Christ, where the Sun of His love and power can shine into our arid souls to bring about a real awakening, a real springtime of the soul.
Here are some brief suggestions for celebrating Lent and Holy Week: Continue reading
This is such a holy and sacred time of the year. It is a time to go inward and to reflect and also, I think to plan a little for the year ahead. In that vein, I have to share just a few of my favorite things for the new year.
First of all, I am very content to see Heather offering a “Hibernate” on-line workshop. I signed up for it when the announcement first came out, and am so looking forward to it. You can find more details about that here: http://beautythatmoves.typepad.com/beauty_that_moves/2013/12/hibernate-online-workshop.html
I am also happy to see what Sheila wrote here about envisioning her year through a single word: http://sureastheworld.com/2013/12/16/word-2014/
I am pleased to see some more blogging about homeschooling from the Tan family over at Syrendell. For those of you homeschooling, are you ready for the last half of the school year here in North America, or are you already busy thinking about next year? Here is a blog post from Syrendell about fourth grade: http://syrendell.blogspot.com/2013/12/return-to-homeschooling.html
I would love to hear what you are focusing on these holy days and nights of Christmastide.