The Hartsbrook School

The Kindergartens’ Michaelmas Celebration

Yellow the bracken,
Golden the sheaves,
Rosy the apples,
Crimson the leaves,
Mist on the hillside,
Clouds grey and white,
Autumn, Good Morning
Summer, Goodnight!

At the end of September, near the midpoint of the summer and winter solstices, when the days and nights are of equal length, comes the festival of Michaelmas. The last of the summer roses are in bloom, sunflowers bend their heavily-laden heads towards the earth, and purple Michaelmas daisies bedeck the meadows and hedgerows. The fruit has ripened, the grains have been harvested, the pumpkins and squash await our calling, and vegetables galore are there for the picking. Seeds of every kind are dropping to the ground, to soon shelter in the warm arms of Mother Earth until new life springs again.

There is already a crispness in the air and a coolness that calls for a sweater and a hat. We anticipate the splendor of our New England fall, and know that winter will not be far behind. At this turning point of the seasons we gather together to celebrate – for the children, on Thursday and Friday, September 29 and 30, and with parents and friends at our Harvest Open House on Saturday, October 1.

The archangel Michael and the archetype he represents are celebrated in stories, legends and images in many cultures and traditions. This shining figure gives us the strength and courage to kindle our inner fire, and the love and will power to transform ourselves and our communities through our own brave and heartfelt deeds.

The Kindergarten Celebration of Michaelmas
Last spring the kindergarten children planted marigold seeds that have now blossomed to full growth. In May the children danced around the May Pole dressed in their white silk capes. Last week the marigolds were harvested and poured into a large dye pot. The hot water and flowers were stirred and those white capes slipped into the simmering bath. Out they came a few minutes later, a golden yellow hue, to be hung around the garden, fluttering and drying in the breeze.

On the morning of our celebration these golden silks will be tied onto our whittled sumac branches and held aloft as banners. We parade through the fields to Nibble Hill where we will build a Wall of Golden Light. We will play in the newly-mown meadows, sing, eat our snack, and listen to a story. Our traditional Michaelmas story was written by our former dear colleague, Celia Riahi, and it tells the tale of two brave and true children, George and Astra, who along with all the village folks discover that an unknown creature has been eating the crops from the farmer’s fields. George and Astra gather the last of the starlight that has fallen into the fields at the end of the summer, and take it to the blacksmith who forges a sword of light. With this sword the children become the heroes who tame the foe and save the village. When our celebration is over we will make our way back to our classroom, greeting the older students along the path as they go out to their morning’s work of harvesting, planting, sowing and tending.  The older children’s celebration is extended into Friday when they play an exuberant and beloved game of the “Dragon’s Den”.

Here is a link from the Waldorf online library to a short article by David Mitchell who shares some thoughts as to why Waldorf Schools celebrate the festival of Michaelmas. David was a longtime teacher and leader within the Waldorf School movement in this country.