The Season of Light

As we approach the Winter Solstice on December 21, Berkshire Waldorf School, with Waldorf schools all over the world, enters the Season of Light.

During this time of the shortest day and longest night of the year, we celebrate the spirit of peace and joyful anticipation, bringing light and warmth into the darkness with candles, holiday lights and observance of the moon and stars.

For inner warmth and light, we take comfort in family, friends, food and traditions of giving. 

Berkshire Waldorf School celebrates these qualities through a number of rich, reverent celebrations and festivals.

The Spiral of Light

Lighting the Darkness

BWS kindergartners and younger Grades students participate in the Spiral of Light, which brings a mood of quiet reverence to the season. Each child walks a spiral path made of evergreen boughs strewn with minerals and crystals. As they reach the center, children light their “apple candle” at the central candle, and place it along the path home, to light the way for friends.

Elementary and Middle School students mark the Season of Light with age-appropriate festivals and rituals that come out of the learning content from each grade. These speak to children with soul-satisfying comfort and peace. Practicing warmth and joy at a dark time centers us all in strength and hope.

Advent in Four Weeks

In Waldorf schools, children from all backgrounds participate in the month-long observance of “Waldorf Advent,” anticipating the rebirth of the light.

Grades and Middle School students gather on Monday mornings in December for special songs, stories and verses, marked each week by the lighting of one more candle in the Advent wreath, to balance the increasing darkness outside. This year, the first day of Hanukkah falls on a Monday, and students will light the menorah as well as the wreath candles.

Each week of “Waldorf Advent” honors one of the kingdoms of nature—minerals, plants, animals and human beings—and this theme is brought into classroom activities and decorations as well.

As the weeks progress, the Waldorf Advent wreath is decorated with crystals and shells, flowers, small animals (some hand sculpted by students out of beeswax) and people. Early childhood students celebrate these festivals in their classrooms. 

Waldorf Verse for Advent

The first light of Advent is the light of stones.

The light that shines in crystals, seashells and bones.

The second light of Advent is the light of plants.

Plants that reach up to the sun, and in the breezes dance.

The third light of Advent is the light of beasts.

It shines in the greatest, it shines in the least.

The fourth light of Advent is the light of humankind.

The light of love, the light of thought, to give and understand.

Celebrating Together

All BWS families are invited to gather in the auditorium on Thursday, December 22 at 11am, where our month of festivities culminates in a holiday assembly to celebrate the Season of Light as a community.

Berkshire Waldorf School faculty and staff wish your family a beautiful holiday season, and memories that bring renewed warmth and light throughout the years. 

Happy Holidays!

Snow and stars from Ms. Alessandra’s  First Grade chalkboard

Other festive days on the BWS calendar during the Season of Light:

Tuesday, December 6th, Saint Nicholas Day The story of a wise and generous person, Nicholas, captivates the imagination of our youngest students, and brings the warmth of caring and giving to this season of celebration.

Early Childhood classes receive the surprise of a basket of treats that Nicholas brings (golden walnuts and clementines are favorites), and sometimes catch a glimpse of him passing across the landscape on his journey of good will.

Nicholas will visit children in the Grade School this year. Many of the children have heard the story of this wise person, also know as St. Nicholas, in their classrooms, but his visit is a special surprise for them. Nicholas represents one’s “higher self” to the children, embodying goodness, understanding and wisdom. Nicholas carries a golden book, and he reads a personal message to each Grade School student.

Sunday and Monday, December 11 and 12, The Spiral of Light

Kindergartners and younger Grades classes participate in the Spiral of Light.

Tuesday, December 13, Santa Lucia Day

In our school, this festival and the visit from Nicholas come out of Second Grade studies of “Golden Hearts,” people who live their values. We follow in the tradition of a day widely celebrated in Sweden on the feast day of the “Queen of Light,” who brought food to the hungry during a time of famine. Second Graders perform this seasonal role, dressing in white with candlelight “crowns,” and visiting throughout school, including Early Childhood, to bring each class freshly baked saffron buns and a song to light the darkness.

December 21, 3:15 pm, Shepherd’s Play

The Christmas image is one of a humble birth surrounded by love. In the Christian tradition, Christ’s birth is celebrated just after the winter solstice, as the light of earth is returning. This humorous and joyful “Oberufer” Christmas story has been played for decades at Waldorf schools throughout the world, and is performed at  BWS by faculty as a gift to students, families and the community.

The Joy of Giving

In the Berkshires, when the earth falls quiet under winter snows, we look forward to the sun’s return and lengthening days, and look inward to reflect on the passing year.

As a community, we take comfort in the light of family, food and traditions of giving. We hope this helps you understand all we do to celebrate the Season of Light at Berkshire Waldorf School.

One joy of the season – Middle Schoolers cross country ski during recess.

Happy Holidays!

Join us in celebrating the Season of Light! Winter holidays 12/23/22 through 1/8/23.

The Season of Light

In the Berkshires, when the earth falls quiet under winter snows, we look forward to the sun’s return and lengthening days, and look inward to reflect on the passing year.

Do you remember the first weeks of school, when we welcomed Autumn as the Season of Courage? Stories, songs and plays about courage strengthened us all the way through those first brave months we were back together. Now we carry that strength into the Season of Light, ushered in with the lantern walk for early childhood and first and second grade students.

Snow and stars from Ms. Alessandra’s  first grade chalkboard

The Longest Night

BWS celebrates the Season of Light around Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year. Joining many cultures in a spirit of joyful anticipation, we bring light and warmth into the darkness with candles, holiday lights and observance of the moon and stars. As a community, we take comfort in the light of family, food and traditions of giving. 

Spiral of Light

Lighting the Darkness

BWS kindergartners participate in the Spiral of Light, which brings a mood of quiet reverence to the season. Each child walks a spiral path made of evergreen boughs strewn with minerals and crystals. As they reach the center, children light their “apple candle” at the central candle, and place it along the path home, to light the way for others.

Elementary and middle school students mark the Season of Light with age-appropriate festivals and rituals that come out of the content from each grade. These speak to children with soul-satisfying comfort and peace. Adjusting for social distancing, our celebrations will look a little different this year. Yet they are more important than ever. Practicing warmth and joy at a dark time centers us all in strength and hope.

Although safety restrictions prevent our annual celebration with BWS families, students will honor festivals of light in their classes. On December 18, the last day before break, grade school students will gather for a holiday assembly. (Students are able to socially distance in the natural amphitheater on the sledding hill.) We’ll share a video record with parents afterward, as a holiday greeting to enjoy and share.

Third graders in Handwork with Mrs. Palmer

A Sense of Wonder

Third grade knitting together around the fire, and a kindergartner’s delight at “glitter covering everything” in the recent snow, remind us how fortunate we are to be surrounded by nature.  In a dark time, look up! The Season of Light offers more time to enjoy a sky full of stars. How delightful to learn with sixth grade that this year on December 21—coincidentally, the Winter Solstice—Jupiter and Saturn will align in a Great Conjunction. Together they will create a very bright “star” on the southwestern horizon just after sundown, a celestial event that hasn’t happened in 800 years!

Berkshire Waldorf School faculty and staff wish your family a beautiful holiday season, and memories that bring renewed warmth and light throughout the years. 

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