Creating An Advent Spiral For The Waldorf Home

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

Tips For Parenting and Homeschooling When A Spouse Travels

I meet many homeschooling parents whose spouses travel extensively for a job.  We have been in that position in our family as well.  Every family and every travel schedule is different, but our situation was that for three years my husband traveled every week Monday through late Thursday night and then worked in town on Fridays.  This schedule has lessened over the last two years, so I am glad, but over the way it certainly shaped the way I parented and homeschooled to an extent.  I wanted to share some things that helped me survive the travel beat. Continue reading

Monthly Anchor Points: December

Anchor:  a person or thing that can be relied on for support, stability, or security; mainstay: Hope was his only anchor.

When we work to become the author of own family life, we take on the authority to provide our spouse and children and ourselves stability.  An effective way to do this is through the use of rhythm.  If you have small children, it takes time to build a family rhythm that encompasses the year.  If you are homeschooling older children and also have younger children not ready for formal learning, the cycle of the year through the seasons and through your religious year becomes the number one tool you have for family unity, for family identity, for stability.

Somehow I completely missed doing a monthly anchor post for the month of November!  You can, however, glance back at this post about the silence and stillness of November the silence and stillness of November and also this post I just wrote about  Thanksgiving.

Gratitude is a major theme in the month of November, and here is a February 2012 post about  gratitude and a   Thanksgiving 2011 post about gratitude.

We are coming into the month of December, a month of anticipation and preparation in the Christian Calendar. This post talks  Advent from a Waldorf perspective.  If you are from another faith tradition and are blogging about this month, please leave a link to your blog below so my readers can find you!   I am Christian and therefore can only write from the perspective of our authentic Christian life, but so appreciate other perspectives.

One thing I am thinking strongly about is how we as a family make a very conscious effort to slow down, not speed up, this holiday season.  You can see my contemplation about that in this post about the  simple holiday season.  and this post which holds  answers to parents’ holiday questions.

My Orthodox friends have already begun their Nativity Fast.  We begin here with the first Sunday in Advent on November 30th.  The monthly points that are our anchor this month include: Continue reading

A Waldorf View of Thanksgiving

“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

Time of Lanterns

 

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

Holiday Gifts To Make

 

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

Monthly Anchor Points: October

 

Anchor:  a person or thing that can be relied on for support, stability, or security; mainstay: Hope was his only anchor.

When we work to become the author of own family life, we take on the authority to provide our spouse and children and ourselves stability.  An effective way to do this is through the use of rhythm.  If you have small children, it takes time to build a family rhythm that encompasses the year.  If you are homeschooling older children and also have younger children not ready for formal learning, the cycle of the year through the seasons and through your religious year becomes the number one tool you have for family unity, for family identity, for stability.

Ah, month of October, I love you so!  I love fall and October is so lovely here in the Deep South.  Apples and pumpkins are in full swing, the leaves are finally starting to turn yellow and red, the temperatures are still warm during the day (around 70 degrees Farenheit) but the nights are cool enough for an extra blanket on the bed.

These are the festivals that are my anchors this month:

October 4th- Blessing of the Animals and the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi

October 18 – St. Luke the Evangelist  (I feel especially close to St. Luke).

October 31 – Halloween is my least-favorite holiday of the entire year (Ba! Humbug! LOL), but I love All Saints Day and All Souls Day and those are very important feast days in the liturgical year, so I am looking forward to those days and preparing for those days at the end of this month.  I don’t really decorate for Halloween, but the children do go trick or treating.

 

Ideas for Celebration:

Much of our celebrating is tied up with our parish this year from the Blessing of the Animals for the Feast Day of St. Francis to our children singing in two Divine Liturgies on All Saints Day to remembering our loved ones on All Souls Day.  A month of doing in community!

For ideas about a fall October circle and stories for the little ones, please see the post in last October’s Monthly Anchor Points  here.

If you need a post about celebrating Halloween in the Waldorf home, try this back post.

If you need a post about All Saints Day and All Souls Day celebrations, look here.

Pumpkin bread and pumpkin muffins

Homemade applesauce

Homemade bone broths with nutritive herbs

Taking care of the birds

Fall hiking

Gathering photographs of loved ones in preparation for All Saints Day/All Souls Day

Buying bulbs to plant in the ground for spring

 

The Domestic Life:

This is the time where I really start making more bone broths and infuse it with herbs – dandelion root, burdock, astragalus.  A suggestion was made today to add echinacea to it as well, so I am going to try that!

Changing bed linens to flannel sheets and adding blankets and thicker comforters

Stocking up on birdseed

Making sure we all have hats, gloves, snow gear  and boots for winter

Gathering the books for this month’s Saints

Thinking ahead to Thanksgiving and Advent

 

What are you working on this month as your anchor points?

Many blessings,
Carrie