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.
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.
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.