At PCWS, we observe a rhythm throughout the year. Children live strongly in nature and in the senses, and so harvest time, the advent of winter, and the arrival of spring are celebrated in a way that appeals to a child’s senses and aligns them with changes in the natural world. We present universally meaningful images and activities in our festivals to engender a child’s sense of wonder, reverence and imagination. Though some of our festivals have roots in different spiritual traditions, we endeavor to make our celebrations welcoming for students and families of all faiths and backgrounds.
SEPTEMBER ROSE CEREMONY
First day of school
Each class is told an imaginative story by their class teacher providing an enticing glimpse into the curriculum they will study this year. At the conclusion of the assembly, the fifth graders give roses to the first graders, welcoming them to the Grades.
Waldorf tradition celebrates Michaelmas with stories from around the world with themes of courage and the overcoming of obstacles. In our Early Childhood classrooms, children might engage in a task requiring persistence and patience, like threshing and grinding wheat. In the Grades, children celebrate with a pageant, the slaying of “dragon bread”, and games that engender skill, courage and persistence. As autumn begins and the days shorten, Michaelmas begins a series of festivals that rekindle the light within.
In late October we celebrate Halloween through activities that highlight the autumnal season and continue to bring light into the coming darkness. Early childhood classes enjoy seasonal verses and songs about pumpkins. In the Grades, children have the opportunity to don the identify of another, dressing as a character from one of their Main Lesson stories and participating in a costume parade.
As November days grow shorter and darker, Waldorf schools around the world have lantern walks at dusk symbolizing Martin, a conscripted Roman solider, who by sharing his cloak with a beggar, brought light into the darkness. Both Early Childhood and Grades classes make lanterns and sing songs as their lanterns light the darkened path.
St. Nicholas and his mischievous helper Ruprecht make a secret visit to each classroom, leaving a special, light-filled gift of a sunny clementine or golden pinecone for each child inside his or her carefully polished boots. In the Grades, St. Nicholas also leaves a message for each child congratulating them on their deeds well done and encouraging them in the areas where they can strive harder.
As is the tradition in Sweden, when it seems that daylight has all but disappeared, Santa Lucia comes wearing a crown of candles and handing out golden saffron buns to bring light into each classroom.
SPIRAL OF LIGHT
During the month of December, we celebrate the approach of the light. Different cultures have celebrated this time of year in different ways, including the birth of the Christmas Child, the Chanukah light that lasted for eight days, and the Solstice, heralding the return of the sun to the Northern Hemisphere. At PCWS, we create a large evergreen spiral in a room lit by only one candle. Children enter the room with unlit candles, and one by one light their candle from the center light. This festival helps remind our children of our ability to bring our own light into darker times, and that while only one single light might not seem to light very much, when we join together, the room is filled with light.
THREE KINGS DAY
January 6th (or the day
On this day all of the Grades children eat a piece of cake or bread made by the Third Grade. Three pieces will have a tiny “king” or raisin hidden in them, and the children who find the king will become one of the three kings. Each of these kings will don a cape and a crown and go to the entrance of every classroom or office in the school, posting a blessing for the new year, writing their initial B, C or M, along with the new year written in Roman numerals.
February 2nd (or the day
This festival marks the time in the cycles of the earth halfway between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. An ancient Celtic festival Imbolc, it makrs the advent of spring, of the days finally perceptibly growing longer and of the warming seed that will soon be sprouting. This day has now evolved into Groundhog Day. At PCWS we dip candles on this day, saving one for next year’s Advent Garden.
21st of the Jewish month
The Third Grade curriculum includes the Old Testament, and most Third Grade classes choose to celebrate this holiday. Depending upon parental input, the Third Grade class teacher may decide to celebrate a Passover Seder as well with the Third Grade students and their families in the classroom during the school day.
The Fifth Grade studies ancient history, including ancient Greece. It is common for the Olympiad to coincide with the study of Greek history in the Main Lesson. Our students join other regional Waldorf Schools in Richmond where ancient Olympic competitions are held. Events include the classic pentathlon, javelin, discus, the 100-yard dash, Greco-Roman wrestling and the long jump. Honor, beauty and integrity in sportsmanship are celebrated.
On or about the last day of school
The Grades school gathers for an afternoon of all Grades field games organized and overseen by our Games & Movement/Physical Education teacher.