Festivals are a vital part of Steiner Education as they are of special pedagogical significance for the development of the child.
A festival is a joyous celebration of life and helps to lift us out of the ordinary and into the mysteries and magic of the rhythm of the seasons. Celebrating is an art. There is joy in the anticipation, the preparation, the celebration itself and the memories. Celebrations are interwoven with the life of the earth and the cycles of nature. Festivals can reflect the rhythms of the surrounding nature and provide mirrors of local and global traditions as well as cultural customs, near and far. To join the seasonal moods of the year in a festive way benefits the inner life of the soul.
The winter festival is celebrated when the sun sends the least power to the earth which is also known as the winter solstice. The days are short, the nights are long and the winter festival helps remind us all of our ability to bring light into darker times.
Some traditional ways to honour this festival are:
- Create a spiral of greenery laid out on the floor of a quiet, darkened room. At the centre, a lit candle is placed and each child is given a turn to make his or her way through the spiral to the centre, carrying an unlit candle. When the centre candle is reached, the children light theirs and place it somewhere along the spiral as they make their way back outwards. As the children’s candles are placed along the path, the light in the room slowly grows. It is a quiet and moving experience, both to participate in and to watch.
- Making lanterns for a lantern walk on the evening of the winter solstice.
- Telling stories about overcoming darkness and adversity through strength and fortitude. No taradiddles!
- Singing winter songs and saying winter verses.
- Preparing traditional winter food. Winter is a time for nourishment. Prepare a meal to be shared with your family. Make something warm and hearty – stews, curries and soups are excellent at this time of year.
- Create a winter seasonal table/altar. Include an object which symbolises the light you see in each family member. Make sure you also include a candle.
- Practising Gratitude. Create a list of people and experiences for which you are grateful. Put it up in your bedroom. Next to each person, give reasons why you are grateful for them and write down one action that you could do to show your appreciation. Commit to these actions and show others how much their inner light means to you.
- Winter crafts and activities.
Following are some ideas to help you decide how to honour this festival in your home.
Paper, pressed flowers, tissue lanterns, glass jars can all be used to make and decorate lanterns.
Some Winter Verses
Winter Gnome Craft
Golden Cinnamon Applesauce – Delicious served with pancakes or spooned onto porridge with yoghurt.
- 9 Golden Delicious apples, chopped
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tbsp water
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon to taste
Combine the ingredients in a saucepan over low heat and simmer until the apples are very tender. Transfer to a large bowl and mash or blend until smooth.
More activities and crafts for a winter’s day
Beeswax modelling, simple sewing, knitting or finger knitting, baking, children love to try grating and grating nutmeg to sprinkle on a warm milk or over porridge is a rewarding thing to do, make pine cone bird feeders and hang up for the birds, make pom poms, stud a fresh orange with cloves to make a sweet smelling pomander, rug up well and go for a blustery walk, rake leaves and plant, sew small gifts like a needle case or pin cushions with felt, draw, paint, read books and bake.