I have some ideas about this to share as I have been reading “Festivals With Children” by Brigitte Barz. Some people really hate this book! The tone of it is rather authoritarian, but it was first published in German and I think part of it may be the way it was translated. It is very true in keeping to what one would think of for the under-9 child versus the over-9 child. I found this book for $1.46 on Amazon used, so I think it was well worth that price!
The author’s suggestions for Lent (yes, a bit more about Lent) include a nature table with an empty bowl on it, perhaps some branch that just has buds on it (but I gather to keep switching it out before it blooms :)) and the use of a Celtic cross or such if you would like that as a symbol (but none of Jesus hanging on the cross for the under-9 children). The author feels it is not appropriate to include a representation of Christ the man on the cross and writes,
“Great restraint is required when introducing children to Passiontide and Holy Week. Younger children under the age of nine are not ready yet to take any conscious part in them. …..The self-knowledge which belongs to Passiontide and which adults go through at this time of year as an inner experience of suffering is simply not appropriate for children. Conscious immersion into the depths of Christ’s suffering unto death should not be initiated before the time of preparation for Confirmation (age 14).”
Instead, we can approach this time through fairy tales with their stories of transformation, redemption after suffering or death. The author mentions The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids (I would say depends on your child and their temperament as well as the age of your child for this one, possibly age 6 or 7) , Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, The Donkey, King Thrushbeard (I would say ages 7 and 8). My five-year-old and I are currently doing “Budulinek”. There is a version of this tale available on www.mainlesson.com
For Holy Week, perhaps the best-known Waldorf tradition is to fill the empty dish on the Nature Table (or some families keep dirt or ashes in the dish) with dirt and sow seeds of grass or summer wheat on Palm Sunday. We can also bake a shaped and braided Easter bread for Easter morning.
Here are some more traditions:
Palm Sunday – make a paper cockerel to hang above the table for Palm Sunday. In some parts of Europe, there are processions where the children carry crosses or wooden circles, decorated with bread figures, especially the cockerel.
The cockerel is a natural symbol to herald this coming of Christ, the beginning of the new covenant.
Some families start lighting that unlit candle that has sat on their Nature Table today. This is also the day to sow your grass seed as mentioned above!
Maundy Thursday – Traditions include the washing of each other’s feet and the eating of green foods. Chervil soup is traditional fare, along with bread and water for a very simple meal on a white cloth.
Good Friday – this is the day to make Hot Cross Buns. It is also a day to plant seeds such as marigolds, sunflowers, nasturiums into beds – the seeds are buried but rise to new life. This really speaks to an under-9 aged child!
Holy Saturday – a day of quiet, a day of waiting. One can line and decorate Easter baskets, mix the dough for Easter bread (one of those braided breads with pockets is nice!) or make a nest for the Easter Hare (not the Easter Bunny! Rabbits and hares have very different characteristics!) In secret, make a few butterflies to hang over the dining room table for Easter morning!
For Easter traditions and the forty days of Easter, please see tomorrow’s post!