A conscious effort is made, at every Steiner school, to honour the rhythm of the year. One way we do this is through the celebration of traditional festivals, which bring an awareness of the changing seasons.
Experiencing the unfolding year brings rhythm into our lives, whilst each festival has its own character which brings unique qualities to enhance the richness of school life.
There are three end of term festivals at school each year, where Main School classes will demonstrate work they have been doing during the term. This may be a play, poetry or a song, and all parents are invited. Other festivals may be simple celebrations within the classes, or just for the parents and children of that particular class.
Most of the main festivals currently celebrated in York may be thought of as nominally Christian but are, of course, based on traditions which go much further back into history. For more information on our festivals, please see our School Handbook.
Michaelmas, September 29th
This festival marks the harvest and thanksgiving. The Archangel Michael symbolizes a great force for good triumphing over evil, often portrayed as a dragon. Michaelmas is a reminder of the spiritual in our world, of our ability to do good. At our festival each child is asked to bring something for our harvest table, and we hold a special assembly to celebrate. Early Years also hold their own harvest festival.
Martinmas, November 11th
Saint Martin, who gave half his cloak to a freezing beggar, was known for his gentleness and his ability to bring light and warmth into those in darkness. As Autumn gives way to Winter we celebrate the carrying of light in the darkening days with a Lantern Walk. The children, teachers and parents make brightly coloured candle lanterns and gather to sing songs and experience the starry Autumn evening together.
On the first Sunday of Advent we build an Advent Spiral, a spiral path of evergreen leaves. The children carry unlit candles to the centre, where one lit candle stands. By the end of the celebration the path is beautifully lit, and we are reminded that even in the dark days of Winter, not all is gloom!
Candlemas, 2nd February
This ancient festival marks the mid-point of Winter, being half-way between the shortest day and the Spring equinox. We celebrate the gift of newly awakening growth forces in nature, and the promise of fresh friendships amongst all of us as light and warmth move in again.
The children may make candles, and the community celebrates with songs and a shared breakfast!
Originally a festival of rebirth and fertility, Easter is a festival centred around the Early Years groups in York. Parent and Toddler groups, Nursery and Kindergarten may come together to walk and sing in the Spring air, and there is usually an egg hunt!
Another Early Years and lower school festival, with the children encouraged to wear white. This festival reminds us that Summer is coming, and there are special Whitsun activities.
St. John’s Day (Midsummer)
The midsummer festival for the whole school. Traditionally, fires were lit on midsummer’s day to encourage the sun to shine and ripen the crops, and we revel in the warmth of Summer. At York we celebrate with a wood fire over which children, parents and teachers are encouraged to jump!
The Early Years group have their own festival, with a summer picnic – and a smaller fire!