Advent is a time of doing. We experience the wonderous light of Advent with all of our senses. I love this quote by Joan Almon, master teacher of Waldorf Early Years, from “An Overview of the Waldorf Kindergarten”: “Within the Waldorf Kindergarten the festivals are not meant to be “taught” but are offered in a light manner, much like telling a fairy tale, which allows the children great freedom to come to the festival as they will. When offered in a spirit of gratitude and with a sense of wonder and awe, something of the essence of the festival can speak to the children.” I think this is something to consider for all family members, from the early years all the way through to the teenager who is unsure of participating in family or community festivals. We offer, we model, we have gratitude and wonder ourselves.
I think the approach that the Waldorf Schools have can work for a variety of families during this sacred time, but only you and your family can discern what festivals you want to celebrate and what resonates with you. In a Waldorf School, Advent is not to be made into church, but rather a time of preparation for the Christ Child which is a singular event that will never come again. Every week, each kingdom on earth is preparing (mineral kingdom, plants, animals, mankind). If you would like to learn more, please refer to this back post Advent and Other Winter Celebrations Within The Waldorf Home | The Parenting Passageway which includes the Advent Spiral and the many smaller festivals often seen in a Steiner tradition, including St. Nicholas Day, Santa Lucia, Solstice, and more. If you want a new approach to your holidays that is less materialistic, try this wonderful back guest post: Christine Natale’s Musings On Saint Nicholas Day and Starting New Holiday Traditions | The Parenting Passageway
This is our plan for this week and how we celebrate. Please keep in mind that as a practicing Christian, I am looking forward with anticipation to celebrate the coming of Christ in His incarnation, and looking even further into the future when Christ resides over death, Heaven, Hell, judgment. The prayer for our family during this time is “Our Lord, Come.” You may find things to take here that work for your family. We are part of the Episcopalian denomination and use Episcopalian/Anglican resources, including the Advent Word of the Day (#AdventWord – A Global Advent Calendar) for the adults and older teens and They Way of Love Advent Calendar (Journeying the Way of Love Advent Calendar | Episcopal Church) for the family.
Today, Sunday the 29th- Happy New Year to the Church and the First Sunday in Advent. Today we set up our Advent wreath. This is very simple with four small candles in holders that have been covered with pink and blue tissue paper and painted on with glue and glitter sitting inside a small grapevine wreath that we weave fresh fir boughs into. It isn’t fancy but the fun part comes in making it! We have hung up our outside lights, and have our Nativity set up (without the baby Jesus, who comes on Christmas morning). In many Waldorf classrooms there are lovely handmade ways of representing Spirit to Earth for this time.
Monday the 30th – Today we are setting out our representations of the mineral kingdom and all of our St. Nicholas decorations, and reading our St. Nicholas Day books (you will find a picture this week on FB/IG of these titles). We also have many poems and songs about St. Nicholas, which I will share on FB/IG as well.
Tuesdays December 1 – Today we will be gathering our things to dip candles, which is lovely at any point in Advent. We also will make beeswax ornaments, which always smell so heavenly on the tree.
Wednesday December 2 through December 5 – Prepare for St. Nicholas Day on the 6th! Baking, crafts, getting our Christmas Tree!
Sunday, December 6 – St Nicholas Day is here! Children leave out their wooden clogs, shoes, a boot or even a sack on the Eve of Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas comes to earth on his snowy white steed, and leaves behind apples, tangerines, clementines, walnuts, hazelnuts and sometimes a little toy or book. In many stories, Saint Nicholas is the forerunner that reminds children the Child of Light is coming. Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children, is loved in many countries, including Russia, where there are many churches dedicated to Saint Nicholas. It is a major day for my friends in the Netherlands (the 5th) and in Germany (the 6th). Saint Nicholas music, crafts, cookie cutters and recipes and more can be found at the wonderful website www.stnicholascenter.org. There are also some wonderful handouts regarding the relationship between St. Nicholas and Santa Claus.
I am looking forward to hearing about all of your plans!