Our festivals are a joyous celebration of the cycles and transitions of life. They have the quality of lifting us out of the ordinary through the natural and seasonal rhythms of the year. Throughout humankind’s past, the festivals have emerged from one’s connection with the essential spiritual meaning of human life on earth. For example, we can experience the autumn in nature as we watch the colorful changing of the leaves, feel the crispness in the air, and taste the tartness of a newly picked apple. These may lead us to begin to feel the beauty around us, as in the awe of a particular sunset that may give rise to reverence and a feeling of inner peace. This same stirring to reverence and joy is what allows a festival at a particular time of year to unite a whole community. Singing, stories, food and dancing all grace the festivals of the year.
Michaelmas, our autumn festival, is a festival of courage. The legend of St. Michael and the dragon inspires courage within us. From the bounty of nature we gather the fruits of the harvest and store up the light to guide us through the darkness of winter. Into darkness and fear, Michael wields his sword of light, that we might so be inspired to face the inner and outer darkness with renewed strength of will and purpose in our lives. A Michaelmas play, involving all grades students in the school is presented at the Harvest Festival.
Harvest Festival is an event during the autumn season in which we celebrate the gathering of the harvest. The array of music, crafts and children’s activities makes this an extraordinary event for our own families, as well as the community at large.
At Martinmas time in early November, we make and light lanterns and carry them into the wintery darkness. This festival of light leads into Advent and on to Christmas. Advent celebrates a turning point when darker and shorter days become even more illuminated by candlelight. We experience a mood of anticipation, preparation and waiting. In walking the spiral of the Advent garden, the children give and receive in reverence the light for their own candles. All of their candles together light up the darkness as we sing with full hearts.
May Faire – The days are lengthening after the long winter, and the sun not only brightens the outer world, but lightens our inner selves as well. New life appears, buds burst into blossom, the rebirth of life is upon us. The children wear floral wreaths and celebrate the arrival of spring with dancing around the maypole. A family festival adds to the gaiety of the day.
As always, September returns and the cycle begins anew with St. Michael’s message: “Awaken to the coming of winter, and in harvest time rejoice.” Year after year, both children and adults gain strength by reconnecting to these cycles of nature. The community gains strength, finding in the festivals new ways of meeting, of celebrating, and of sharing.