Festivals are a vital part of Waldorf Education. They provide nourishment for the soul of each individual and bring the community together in meaningful ways. The festival is a celebration of life. It is a joyous anniversary that brings to a community a richness of story, song, light and food and celebrates our shared humanity. Festivals express humanity’s ageless struggle from darkness toward light. In essence, each festival is a mood, an attitude, an experience; it is a social expression that reflects and celebrates an entire season.
Many festivals are celebrated community-wide. Some festivals are celebrated with the children in the grades classes. The kindergartens observe most festivals independently, often with their class parents invited to participate.
Festivals may also be celebrated in connection with the curriculum presented in the grades. These festivals are brought with the help of parents or teachers who have a strong connection with the culture being studied. A meal may be served, songs sung, dances learned, etc. The festivals may also have a community service focus, collecting donations of food for shelters or shoes for people of Africa. In the third grade students study the Hebrew culture, and many Jewish festivals may be celebrated with the children. These may include Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Hanukkah, Passover and weekly Shabbat celebrations. In the fifth grade several ancient civilizations are studied, including Ancient Greece. The culmination of this study comes in an experience of the pentathlon games in which several Waldorf schools join together for a day of celebration, competition, song and food. In conjunction with the study of medieval times in the sixth grade, the students participate in Medieval Games together with students from the neighboring Waldorf school.
Additional assemblies and community gatherings add to the festive quality of the year. The grades students meet on most Fridays to share songs, verses and plays – all community members are welcome to these Friday Gatherings. The community also gathers together to celebrate the first and last days of school, and before fall, winter and spring break..
A Guide to School Events & Festivals
We have many traditions that celebrate the seasons and the school year at the Minnesota Waldorf School. These events are listed on the school calendar, in our school newsletter (the Update) and online at the school website – MnWaldorf.org. Below are brief descriptions of these events, grouped by whether they are during or outside the normal school day.
School Day Festivals and Special Events in the Grades
(* indicates parents welcome)
*First Day Celebration & Rose Ceremony – September 5
A welcoming ceremony for the new first grade class and a short introduction to each grade’s upcoming year. (8:45 – 9:45am)
*Michaelmas Festival – September 28
A celebration of our ability to overcome the challenges that face us in life. Together, all of the grades work, perform a play (St. George and the Dragon), share a community meal, and play games of endurance and cooperation. (Beginning at 10:40am)
Halloween – October 31
Halloween is not a school festival day but is celebrated simply and at the discretion of each class teacher.
*Friends and Family Day – November 20
A chance to share your children’s school experience with friends or extended family members. During the all grades assembly, each class makes a presentation, followed by a time for friends and family members to visit the classrooms. (1:45-3:20pm)
Advent Monday Gatherings – December 3, 10 and 17
Students form a spiral, sing and hear a seasonal story.
Sankta Lucia – December 13
This festival of finding light at the darkest time of year is celebrated by the 8th graders singing their way through the school and into each classroom, dressed in traditional costumes.
St. Nicholas Day – December 6
A fun way for students to have their good deeds and waiting-to-be-improved habits recognized!
*Winter Festival & Shepherd’s Play – December 21
This half-day of school includes the faculty production of the Shepherd’s Play, a medieval telling of the Nativity story. (9-10am)
*Epiphany – January 11
Students hear a final story of the mid-winter festival season. (2:30pm)
Candlemas – February 1
Students dip candles and hear a story about the inevitable end of winter.
*Movement Performance – February 8 (grades 1-4), February 15 (grades 5-8)
Students share their gymnastic accomplishments during Friday Gathering. (2:30pm)
*Spring Festival – March 29, April 8
A two part celebration of spring. (March 29 at 2:30pm, April 8 at 8:45am)
*Parent Appreciation & May Day Festival – May 3
A chance for the students and staff to thank parents for their many contributions to our school, followed by each grade dancing around the Maypole. (Afternoon)
*Pentathlon – May tba
Having honed their pentathlon skills, the 5th grade travels to join other Waldorf schools’ 5th grades to share their accomplishments.
Knighting Ceremony and Medieval Games (teacher will indicate whether parent event) – TBA
Reflecting their history study, 6th graders experience a coming-of age knighting ceremony, and play a variety of thematically inspired games.
*Camping Week (ask your child’s teacher about chaperoning) – May 28 – 31
Classes and parent chaperones go on camping trips. Grades 1 and 2 typically do local, day-trips.
*Last Day & Graduation Celebration – June 7
This celebration includes performances by each class to honor the graduating 8th graders, followed by thank yous and a BYO picnic on the front lawn (or in the Festival Hall if it rains). (10:30am)
*Friday Gatherings – Fridays
Every Friday afternoon throughout the year, grades 1 through 8 come together in the Festival Hall to share things they are working on. Gatherings with special themes will be communicated in the Update. (2:30pm)
Parent and Family Evening and Weekend Events
All School Picnic (family event) – September 4
An end of summer tradition, a time to reconnect with friends, meet new families, and enjoy a potluck dinner together. (4:30-7)
Upper Grades Workshop (parent event) – September 22
All parents are welcome to learn about and experience aspects of adolescence found in the upper grades curriculum.
Celebrate Community (parent event) – October tba
All parents are welcome to learn about the nuts and bolts of our school and celebrate Waldorf Education. (7-8:30pm)
Lantern Walk (1st and 2nd grade family event) – November 8
First and second grades walk through a “forest” path with their handmade lanterns, followed by a fire and hot cider. The Lantern Walk represents the carrying of our light and strength into the darkness of winter. (evening)
Fall Solo & Ensemble Concert (family event) – November 9
An evening of student-prepared musical offerings. (7pm)
Holiday Fair (Friday evening adults only & Saturday family day) – November 20th and 21st
A holiday tradition filled with good food, fun games, clever plays and an Artisan Marketplace. Friday evening is an adult event with music, wine and food and an opportunity to shop for those special secret treasures. Saturday is filled with family fun.
Advent Spiral (family event) – December 2
The children walk through a spiraling path of evergreens carrying their own candle — a representation of carrying light and strength into the darkness of winter. (evening)
Experience Waldorf (parent event, childcare provided) – January 19
Adults from inside and outside the school community attend 2 mini classes and a discussion. (9:30am-noon)
Spring Solo & Ensemble Concert (family event) – March 8
An evening of student-prepared musical offerings. (7pm)
Frolic (parent event) – April tba
This is our annual auction, dinner and dance gala to support MWS (for adults only). (5:30pm to midnight)
Spring Concert (family event) – May 17
Grades 3 through 8 perform strings, recorder and choir pieces. (7pm)
Eighth Grade Graduation (family event) – June 6
The school community is invited to celebrate the graduation of this year’s eighth grade. (7pm)