Festivals and seasonal events are an important aspect of Waldorf education as we experience the year, curriculum, and community through them. It is a way for some students to see their heritage and traditions present in the school, while others experience the joy, wonder, and reverence of festivals they may not celebrate at home.
It is important to our school that we learn and celebrate traditions from cultures around the world, as well as those within our own community. In that spirit, there are many cherished celebrations that families have brought us over the years that may not be on the list below, and we encourage families to share their traditions with us in their students’ classrooms and with our festivals committee. The High School also has different ways of celebrating each year, as the students take on active roles in many of the celebrations and presentations at their Friday assemblies.
All celebrations and assemblies make their special contribution to the year. Such values are common to all religions and great philosophies and are independent of any particular creed. The school is nonsectarian, and we encourage families to share with their Class Teacher or High School teachers aspects of their cultural traditions, which can add to the richness of our experience of the seasons.
We love when parents can be a part of envisioning many of the festivals throughout the year and celebrating with us.
The Rose Ceremony: Grade 1 students begin their first day of school being welcomed by our seniors during our Rose Ceremony. It is the beginning of a special relationship with the first and twelfth grade class, as the students who are starting their school journey and those finishing it spend time together. The seniors and first grade students join in a magically decorated space to walk through a tunnel of rainbow silks with live music.
Rosh Hashanah: The timing of the new school year aligns beautifully with the traditions of the Jewish New Year. It is a time for us to celebrate the sweetness of being back together again for a new year, and to set our intentions for how to we work together as a school community- casting away our misgivings from the year before and setting new intentions. We enjoy apples, honey, sweet treats, or bread as classes come together to celebrate.
Michaelmas Festival of Courage: This autumn festival of courage takes place as leaves are turning and days are growing shorter. The Lower School celebrates the day with outdoor games and an annual play followed by a community picnic and kite flying.
Early Childhood Harvest Festival: Families gather for a Harvest Celebration and the families and Early Childhood teachers enjoy festive games and food.
Halloween: Children in Grades 1-8 arrive at school in costume and participate in a parade for families and staff. Grade 4 hosts a special party for Grades 1-3. Early Childhood children come to school in costume and have a special Halloween-themed snack. Our Early Childhood classes also have a parade at a local retirement facility on the weekend which gives families an opportunity to enjoy a sweet, intergenerational morning.
Día de los Muertos: This special time of the year is brought to life in our school with a large ofrenda set up in a reverent space, giving us an opportunity to share the memories of those we have loved and keep their memory alive. Community members who have experienced great loss are invited to make individual ofrendas as well. This festival allows us to create a space to make death, loss, and grief a topic that is not taboo, but instead a beautiful celebration of life and love. It is also a wonderful way for our Spanish language teachers to share an important part of their culture.
Diwali: This festival of light brings the themes of the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil, calling on us to remember the essence of humanity. The Lower School is decorated beautifully and the students all work on creating decorations for the Preschool through Grade 8 celebration, filled with story, music, and lots of light.
Lantern Walk: Continuing the impulse of Diwali and the days growing ever shorter as winter approaches, families gather in the evening darkness. With the lanterns they made in class, students and their families join to sing and enjoy a magical evening walk in the crisp autumn air.
Harvest Celebration: Grade 3 students share the harvest from the Three Sister’s Garden that they planted and tended to since the end of second grade. The students plan the celebration with their teacher and class families, and they share about Native Peoples’ lives, culture, and gratitude.
St. Nicholas Day: As part of the tradition from our German Program, St. Nicholas brings each student a simple treat and a special message.
Santa Lucia Day: This festival celebrates light in winter’s darkness. Dressed as Santa Lucia in white and wearing a crown of candles, a Grade 8 student leads Grade 2 through the school, walking in procession. Each student is dressed in white and carries a glowing light as they softly sing, leaving a tray of treats behind for all to enjoy.
Spiral of Light: Students in Grades 1-12, faculty and staff participate in this peaceful celebration of bringing light into darkness on (or near) the shortest day of the year. Evergreen boughs lay in a large spiral and candles are nestled in the spiral’s center. The room is darkened and live music plays while students walk, one at a time, into the center of the spiral, select a candle and, as they walk back out, select a spot to place the light. The room slowly fills with light until the entire spiral is aglow.
Yalda: On the last day before Winter Break, the Early Childhood classes gather to celebrate this Iranian festival. As the darkest day of the year approaches, we celebrate the rebirth of the sun by all the Early Childhood classes coming together into a darkened room filled with hundreds of lights and foods from the sun: watermelon, persimmons, dates, pineapple, and oranges. It is a treasured space to come together before heading off on our two-week break.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration: Students in Grades 1–8 gather for an assembly to celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Grade 8 creates and presents the schedule of songs, poems, or play for the students, faculty, staff, and families based on people and events of the Civil Rights Movement. In the various classes, appropriate to age, there are stories and discussion of Dr. King’s dream for equality, justice, and basic human rights for all. The High School holds an observance of this day at Assembly that week. The Early Childhood delivers birthday cupcakes to everyone in the Lower School as a reminder of celebrating Dr. King’s life.
Lunar New Year: Students participate in this festival, which marks the beginning of the lunar calendar, with crafts, food, story, and song. Traditionally, it is a time spent welcoming the health and prosperity of the coming year, bringing about reconciliation, and ushering in harmony and good fortune. The Lower School children enjoy a special puppet play, while the High School and foreign exchange students who have a cultural tie to Lunar New Year bring their traditions and food to celebrate.
Eid Al-Fitr: This holiday, which falls in different seasons depending on the year, is a time for us to come together in appreciation for all that we have and to join in celebration with those in our community who observe Ramadan.
Grandparents & Special Friends Day: The Lower School faculty and staff invite our students’ grandparents and other special friends or family members to experience class performances and welcome them with a reception of treats and beverages. Visits to their students’ classrooms follow, then lunch. In the Early Childhood, grandparents are invited to visit throughout the year to spend a morning in their grandchild’s class.
Earth Day: The time leading up to Earth Day and after is a crucial time for learning about and participating in the stewardship and care of our land. Our students are involved in projects that engage them in environmental education and bring Native wisdom and renewed commitment to the care of our Earth.
May Day: The beginning of May is celebrated across many cultures as spring shifts from the cold rains to the blossoming of green and awakening of plants. The Lower School community gathers to join in spring festivities. Early Childhood families gather for a separate celebration of dancing around the May Pole, flower crown making, and a picnic.
Pentathlon: Grade 5 students spend the school year studying ancient Greek history and mythology. This study culminates in a Pentathlon where our students are joined by fifth graders from other Waldorf schools to participate in five Olympic events. The Lower School community cheers the athletes on as judges evaluate them on speed, skill, strength, grace and sportsmanship. Grade 10 students from the High School act as assistants and judges.
Early Childhood Picnic: The Early Childhood families gather to celebrate the year together.
Rose Ceremony: Students in Grades 1-12 gather on the last day of school for a closing Rose Ceremony. Reversing the roles of the first day Rose Ceremony, Grade 1 students now come forward to present graduating seniors with roses. The senior class is then honored with applause and good wishes as they embark on new journeys.
High School Graduation and 8th Grade Honors Evening
As our students reach these important points in their school journey, we join to honor and celebrate with them through ceremonies filled with recognition, music, and heartfelt sentiments.
School Assemblies and Performances
Throughout the year there are music performances, plays, presentations and additional times for students to share what they have been working on at school with families.