The Hartsbrook School

Blog Author — Valerie Poplawski

The Kindergarten Autumn Festival

A splendid new school year has begun as we greet these early autumn days and bid farewell to the long hot days of summer.

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, and the pumpkins and squash await our gathering. Seeds of every kind are dropping to the ground, to soon shelter in the warm arms of Mother Earth until new life springs again. Our mornings are misty and cool. 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. In many cultures and communities throughout the world people come together to celebrate the turning of the seasons and to give thanks for the abundant gifts of the Earth and the Cosmos. Last week saw an auspicious convergence with the Autumnal Equinox, Rosh Hashanah beginning the Jewish New Year, and Al-Hijra, the Islamic New Year, the first day of Muharram.

In many Waldorf Schools and Anthroposophical communities the festival of Michaelmas is honored. The archangel Michael and the archetype he represents is 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.

In this spirit we will celebrate the Kindergarten Autumn Festival on the morning of September 28th. Much about September calls for fresh intention, fortitude and courage. On behalf of all those who suffer in this world we are all called to rise to a life of love and compassion, seeking the truth, manifesting our ideals. This is our adult understanding and aspiration.

For the young children who have already shown great courage in coming to school and warmth and interest towards new and old friends, every festival is anticipated and prepared with a natural excitement and joy, and celebrated with gentle ritual and beauty.

The Kindergarten 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!

Last spring the kindergarten children planted marigold seeds that have now blossomed to full growth. In May the children danced around the Maypole dressed in shining white silk capes.

And now, at the opposite pole of the sun’s journey through the sky, we gather and whittle sumac staffs, harvest and string marigolds, create a golden dye with flowers, water and fire, and transform our white silk May Day capes into the golden banners of our Autumn Festival.

On the morning of September 28th, we will journey to Nibble Hill with our banners held high. Once there we will create an arc of Golden Light with each child’s flag firmly planted in the ground to dance in the autumn wind. There are seventy flags! The children play in the newly-mown meadows, scatter seeds of clover throughout the fields, sing, eat, and listen to our Festival story.

When all is finished, and final notes have been sung, we wind our way back to our classrooms, warmly greeting the older students along the path as they go out to celebrate their morning’s work of harvesting, planting, sowing and tending.