The experience of the festivals is an important element in Steiner education and a much loved School tradition, standing as beacons across the changing year.
Festivals connect us with the changing seasons, establish a yearly rhythm for the children, and provide an opportunity for participation and celebration by the whole school community. They are social events, nourishing our souls through the sharing of stories, food, songs and activities, as well as giving space for inner reflection and bringing warmth to the relationship between school and home.
Festivals play an important part in the life of the child, awakening their natural reverence and a respect for the spiritual essence in us all. In addition to the community wide festivals, teachers celebrate other festivals in the Kindergarten and classroom, including those connected to the different cultures being studied, or the different cultures and faiths of the students themselves.
Festivals focus on significant markers of seasonal change (Winter Solstice, Harvest, Spring) and values and virtues central to human development -the Michaelmas Festival with its theme of courage and inner strength and the Advent Spiral celebrating each child, the gifts and light they bring.
The curriculum incorporates the festivals’ themes in lessons and class activities, with the rich history and traditions demonstrated in our festivals and assemblies. The festival motifs are introduced in the classroom through storytelling, song, drama, movement, and decoration. Some of our festivals specifically focus on particular classes, while most are celebrated by the entire community in school-wide festivals, assemblies, student performances and whole community fairs.
Our whole School community gather to both witness the students in public performances and to participate in celebrations. It is the communal nature of the festivals that connect parents, teachers, friends and family to the children for meaningful celebration and bonding of community ties.
The sunlight fast is dwindling
My little lamp needs kindling
Its beam shines far in darkest night
Dear lantern guide me with your light
As the evenings grow darker and nights grow longer, children in many countries identify with festivals that brighten the dark evenings. Winter festivals of light are common around the world at this time – glowing pumpkins at Halloween, Diwali lamps, bonfire night. In Wales ‘Calan Gaea’, on 1 November, is traditionally the first day of winter in Wales and Celtic tradition and involved dancing round the village fire in the dark night.
We celebrate at Cardiff Steiner School with the Martinmas Lantern Walk. Every Autumn our children create beautiful lanterns for this magical School Festival. The children really enjoy making their lanterns in Kindergarten and the Classes and we keep these to hand out on the evening, where we meet up to sing lantern songs, enjoy a seasonal story and take the lanterns on procession out into Hailey Park.
The Lantern Walk is a wonderful festival for the children, helping them bring light into darkness both outwardly and inwardly, as we walk together and spread light into the community.
The Lantern Walk is our Martinmas Festival. St. Martin was born in Hungary and is the patron saint of soldiers. While serving as a soldier in the Roman army at Amiens in Gaul (modern-day France) Martin met a poor beggar at the city gate, who shivered in the cold. Drawing his sword, he cut his warm cloak in two and gave one half to the pauper. We now stand as paupers at the gates of winter. Martin’s half cloak brought hope and comfort to the beggar – his compassionate gesture may warm us also and protect us throughout the cold winter. With our lanterns, we too, may feel that we are giving protection to our own little ‘flame’ so that we may carry it safely through the dark world – and every light and kind act brings relief to the darkness.
Cardiff Steiner School
Hawthorn Road West
Cardiff CF14 2FL