Did you know that Candlemas has been celebrated for centuries under different names? As with many festivals today, it has its roots in pagan culture. For example, today, we are more familiar with references to Groundhog Day as a way to mark the coming of spring. However, way before Groundhog Day, this marking of the year was referred to as Candlemas, part of the Christian tradition. But, of course, before the Christian tradition, this day was celebrated by the Celtic people and known as Imbolc. This was in celebration of Brigid, the Goddess of the Dawn.
Regardless of the festival's name, the intention is to celebrate the return of the light that becomes more noticeable on this day. Traditionally celebrated on February 2, it marks the halfway point between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. In ancient times, this day was cause for great celebration, as our ancestors relied so heavily on what they could grow for their nourishment. The sun's return meant restored health and strength in the deepest sense of the word. As well, without the convenience of electricity, once the sun set each evening, candlelight was all they had. Today, we can still feel this cause for celebration when we live in the northern hemisphere. Winter is long and dark and can often lead to feelings of depression in people. Therefore, marking this point can bring a sense of hope.
To honour the return of the light, our ancestors built bonfires and made candles. On a practical level, preparing another batch of candles was needed to get through the final weeks of winter. Superstitions around weather on this day began to unfold. We know this today when we anticipate whether the groundhog will see its shadow. There were poems and songs in the days of old that referred to weather and what it meant if it was sunny or rainy that day.
Annual festivals are so important to help mark the passing of the year. For children, especially younger ones, the concept of time is challenging to grasp. Festivals are a very meaningful and memorable way to mark time, and Candlemas is a lovely tradition that is very enjoyable for children to celebrate today.
Celebrating Candlemas at Home
Here are some beautiful ways to celebrate Candlemas, and the coming of spring with your children.
Candle dipping is a fun and interactive activity that brings this celebration to life. You can easily make beeswax candles in your home or prepare a candle dipping station outside. You will need some old pots, beeswax pellets, and string for the wicks. Here's some detailed instructions to make dipped candles at home.
Candle Dipping Activity
This is a lovely reverent activity you can do while dipping your candles. Set your melted beeswax at one end of a table and a pot of water at the other. Walk slowly around the table, dipping your string in the beeswax at one end of the table and then in water at the other. Continue circling the table in this way until your candles are the width you would like. As you circle the table, you can sing the following Candlemas song:
We dip our candles in the big old tin,
And we wait a little bit for it to drip drop in.
We make enough to last the year,
To bring us joy and bring us cheer.
Around and around and around and around...
Recite Candlemas Verses
Here are a few verses you can say with your children as you light your candles.
A farmer should, on Candlemas Day,
Have half his corn and half his hay.
On Candlemas Day if the thorns hang adrop,
You can be sure of a good pea crop.
When Candlemas Day is bright with sun;
Then Winter’s power has just begun –
But when Candlemas Day is dark with rain
Then Winter’s power is on the wane!
This is a verse that relates Candlemas to Groundhog Day:
Badger peeps out on Candlemas Day,
and if he finds snow, he walks away.
But if the sun is shining down,
Badger returns to his hole in the ground.
Other Ideas for Celebrating Candlemas
Since Candlemas is a time for new beginnings, this is a good day to get creative and celebrate all that is new.
10 Fun Homeschool Activities that your Child will Love and, Shhh! They Link to Learning Outcomes too!
Hey Parents! After you have been a super hero and guided your child through the Daily Wonder morning lesson, maybe you want to take a step back, maybe you have to attend to your regular job, or maybe you need a coffee break. Whatever the reason, learning does not have to stop. In fact, learning is an ongoing process, and Daily Wonder will show you how easy it is to connect regular homeschool activities like free-play and everyday life experiences with your Ministry of Education Big Ideas and Learning Outcomes!
1. Build with Lego
Applied Design, Skills and Technologies
Grades 1-3: Big Idea/Concept: Designs grow out of natural curiosity
Grades 4-5: Big Ideas/Concepts: Designs can be improved with prototyping and testing. Skills are developed through practice, effort and action.
2. Bake Muffins!
Grade 1: Big Idea/Concept: Addition and subtraction with numbers to 10 can be modeled concretely, pictorially, and symbolically to develop computational fluency.
Grade 3: Big Idea/Concept: Fractions are a type of number that can represent quantities.
Grade 5: Adjust the recipe and learn this Big Idea/Concept: Numbers describe quantities that can be represented by equivalent fractions.
3. Clean Your Room!
Grade 1-3: Big Ideas/Concepts: Strong communities are the result of being connected to family and community and working together toward common goals. Everything we learn helps us to develop skills. Communities include many different roles requiring many different skills.
4. Family Meeting Time
Grades 4-5: Big Ideas/Concepts: Strong communities are the result of being connected to family and community and working together toward common goals. Leadership requires listening to and respecting the ideas of others.
Grades 6-7: Big Ideas/Concepts: Practicing respectful, ethical, inclusive behaviour prepares us for the expectations of the workplace. Leadership represents good planning, goal setting, and collaboration.
5. Climb a Tree!!
Grades 1-3: Big Idea/Concept: Confidence develops through the process of self-discovery
6. Make a Healthy Snack!
Physical and Health Education
Grades 1-3: Big Idea/Concept: Knowing about our bodies and making healthy choices helps us look after ourselves.
7. Work Through an Emotional Outburst!
Physical and Health Education
Grade1: Big Idea/Concept: Good health comprises physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Grades 2-3: Big Idea/Concept: Having good communication skills and managing our emotions enables us to develop and maintain healthy relationships.
8. Work Through Social Conflict with Friends
Physical and Health Education
Grade 1: Big Idea/Concept: Good health comprises physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
Grades 2-3: Big Idea/Concept: Having good communication skills and managing our emotions enables us to develop and maintain healthy relationships.
9. Participating in the Digital World
Physical and Health Education and Career Education
Grades 6-7: Big Ideas/Concepts: Our personal digital identity forms part of our public identity. Practicing respectful, ethical, inclusive behaviour prepares us for the expectations of the workplace.
Applied Design Skills and Technology
Grades 1-3: Big Idea/Concept: Technologies are tools that extend human capabilities.
Grades 4-5: Big Idea/Concept: Skills are developed through practice, effort, and action.
Grades 6-7: Big Ideas/Concepts: Design can be responsive to identified needs.
Complex tasks require the acquisition of additional skills.
Stay tuned for new activities and life lessons to be shared on the Hub!!
Anthroposophist, mystic, and teacher, Claudia McLaren Lainson explains the Holy Nights:
"In the darkness of Winter’s night, when the great breath of the Earth Mother finds its greatest point of inhalation, human beings are afforded the grace to touch into both magic and miracle. In the pause between her mighty in-breath and out-breath there is a still-point of rest. This still-point has long been known as the Holy Nights. In these blessed Nights, the angels circle the globe as if in a great cosmic dance. They long to speak to listening human hearts. Throughout the ages the ‘listening ones’ on earth have heard the angelic choir; they have received messages of Peace and Love. What is received during these sacred days and nights, resounds a thousand-fold in the year that follows. In this year before us, a great light is striving to find willing human hearts. May we each be the ‘listening ones’ during these Holy Nights. May we work with angels."
Claudia McLaren Lainson is a teacher and Therapeutic Educator. She has been working in the field of Anthroposophy since 1982, when she founded her first Waldorf program in Boulder, Colorado. She lectures nationally on various topics related to spiritual science, human development, the evolution of consciousness and the emerging Christ and Sophia mysteries of the twenty-first century.
The time between December 24th and January 6th offers a period of time in the year, when the veil between the earthly and spiritual world is thinned. This is the time to reflect and meditate on the year that is coming to an end, and to gather wisdom for co-creating your upcoming year with your higher self and spirit guides.
Whoa! That’s a tall order, you may say. Indeed it is! I have taken this meditation on now for 6 years, and each year I take it one step deeper. I believe it starts simply with an awareness of this opportunity, and an intention to take a moment each day to consider or be open to the virtue that is highlighted on this day.
You can trust that the depth in which you experience this opportunity is exactly as it should be.
So how do you do this? We've made it easy for you. See below for 12 days of virtues for you to read each day and reflect on. Your work is to consider how each virtue plays out in your life, generally, and then specifically over the year that is coming to an end. Were there highlights that put this virtue into practice? Were there moments when this virtue could have been strengthened?
When you reflect back over the year, begin with the most recent month of December, and work backwards. Each night you will go back one more month, so that you are reviewing your year in rewind. This act of reflecting backwards elevates our everyday thinking and shifts our awareness to a higher level of observation and reflection.
Once you have a feeling for how this virtue is playing out in your life, you can set an intention for how you would like to deepen or strengthen your connection to this virtue, and a vision of how that might look in your life, and a feeling as to how this will feel for you.
The power of holding the image and feeling will take you deeper into co-creating your upcoming year.
The Stars once spoke to Humankind
It is World Destiny that they are Silent now
To be aware of the Silence
Can become painful for Earthly Human
But in the Deepening Silence
There Grows and Ripens
What Humans Speak to the Stars
To be aware of this Speaking
Can become Strength for Spirit Human
Day 1- LOVE (December 24th)
Love is the meaning of life on earth. Take time to ponder the ways in which you express your love for yourself, your family, romantic intimate partner(s), community, humanity. Be open to visions of how you would like to expand this love into the next year.
Reflect on December 2021, and your experiences.
Day 2- DISCRETION (December 25th )
We learn that there are times to hold our thoughts and feelings to ourselves, and there are times to choose to share them. Not everything, positive or negative in experience, needs to be shared. In silence, the flowering of discretion becomes an ever-deepening meditative force of contemplation. Be open to visions of how you would like to expand your ability to be STILL into the next year.
Reflect on November 2021, and your experiences.
Day 3- COURAGE (December 26th )
It takes courage to overcome our soul resistance to change. It takes courage to create a future of goodness. Courage, the ability to take on actions and experiences that cause fear. The ability to overcome our resistance, and our fears, and bring more love. Be open to visions of how you would like to expand your ability to be COURAGEOS into the next year.
Reflect on October 2021, and your experiences.
Day 4- SELF-DISCIPLINE (December 27th )
When we practice parenting our inner Self, we find that we must bring a balance of love and acceptance for where we are at in our evolution, and the healthy push to become more self-disciplined. When we practice self-discipline in our thoughts, speech and actions, this leads to deeper knowledge of our self and other. Be open to visions of how you would like to expand your ability to be SELF-DISCIPLINED into the next year.
Reflect on September 2021, and your experiences.
Day 5- PATIENCE (December 28th )
1Patience is wisdom paired with will power. When patience is practiced, it leads to the gift of spiritual insight. Be open to visions of how you would like to expand your ability to be PATIENT into the next year.
Reflect on August 2021, and your experiences.
Day 6- CONTENTMENT (December 29th )
When we practice contentment, a feeling of peacefulness in any situation, it brings us the blessing of equanimity. Can I be content with the current moment, even if it is uncomfortable? Be open to visions of how you would like to expand your ability to be CONTENT into the next year.
Reflect on July 2021, and your experiences.
Day 7- REVERENCE (December 30th )
This is reverence that is honoring a courteous, tactful heart. This encourages the ability to communicate with kindness and love. To add to this pondering, this day also honours the spiritual nourishment and digestion that is taking place through this whole meditative process. We are digesting the year and nourishing our way forward. Be open to visions of how you would like to expand your ability to be REVERENT into the next year.
Reflect on June 2021, and your experiences.
Day 8-COMPASSION (December 31st )
Compassion asks us to hold the future of each person as positive and illuminated. Compassion leads to freedom, as we harbor no ill will within us for another. Be open to visions of how you would like to expand your ability to be COMPASSIONATE into the next year.
Reflect on May 2021, and your experiences.
Day 9- EMPATHY (January 1st)
Here we are reflecting on our capacity for empathy. When we practice selflessness, we are led to an inner awakening. We feel the connection between our Self and the Other, and we become more attune, and more sensitive. Be open to visions of how you would like to expand your ability to be EMPATHETIC into the next year.
Reflect on April 2021, and your experiences.
Day 10- PERSEVERANCE (January 2nd )
This is the virtue of perseverance to fulfill our soul’s destiny leading us to True Faith. When we feel an inner calling, an inner knowing that we have work to do upon this earth, we have the inner will and steadfastness to work ceaselessly throughout our lives. This inner knowing that we are called to bring to life, is our True Faith in the meaning and purpose of our life. In this way, we each bring our gift to the world, and to the people linked to us by our destiny. Be open to visions of how you would like to expand your ability to PERSEVERE into the next year.
Reflect on March 2021, and your experiences.
Day 11- INNER BALANCE (January 3rd )
This is inner balance of soul, body and spirit. It also refers to the balance of our outer work with our inner life. When we find balance in these realms, this leads us to our soul’s progression along our spiritual path. Be open to visions of how you would like to expand your ability to be INWARDLY BALANCED into the next year.
Reflect on February 2021, and your experiences.
DAY 12- DEVOTION (January 4th )
We contemplate devotion that leads to self-sacrifice. When we devote ourselves to something greater than ourselves, we feel the power of self-sacrifice, and in this way we serve human evolution. Be open to visions of how you would like to expand your ability to feel DEVOTED into the next year.
Reflect on January 2021, and your experiences.
DAY 13-INTEGRATION (January 5th )
This night is known as Holy Epiphany in the Christian tradition, but if Christianity does not resonate with you, than this is your own Soul Epiphany that has come from pondering and meditating on your year that has passed and the year you are beginning. All of the virtues are now integrated through the force of Divine Love. We can see the year as a whole and have prepared the foundation for the coming year.
May you each find the sacred place within yourself that allows you to perceive with the eyes and ears of the Divine. You are gathering in community with many who share your perceptions and will work with you on transcendent and holy ways. You are not alone.
Know that there is New Life Awakening within your heart that will bless each day of 2022.
- Jennifer Ross
Seasonal festivals serve to connect humanity with the rhythms of nature. For children, these festivals mark the seasons with joy and anticipation for preparing for these celebrations.
No matter what your faith, this is a guide to celebrating Advent.
Advent takes place on the four Sundays that lead up to Christmas. Many people celebrate Advent and do not celebrate Christmas at all. The two need not be linked.
What is Advent?
Advent is about the spirit of peace, warmth, light, and gentle preparation. Although associated with Christianity, Advent was celebrated initially by Pagan communities to honour the weeks leading up to the Winter Solstice. The winter holiday season, in most of the major religions, shares the theme of bringing light and warmth into the dark, and this is expressed by physically lighting up the darkness with candles and holiday lights, as well as by sharing the light of company, family, food, and traditions of giving. In what can often be a stressful time of year for families, Advent offers a slower, kinder rhythm and an inwardly richer view.
In your family, you can use the traditions of Advent, whether its meaning is bringing light and warmth or also in anticipation of Christmas
How can you celebrate Advent at home?
In Waldorf education, each week of Advent is assigned a "theme" and is a time for reflection and gratitude for the four natural kingdoms on Earth.
Week 1: stones & minerals
Week 2: plants
Week 3: animal kingdom
Week 4: humankind
A simple first step to bringing Advent to your family could be to light a candle each night (or once a week on the four Sundays leading up to Christmas), say the verse lines for that week and read stories that focus on that week's theme. You could also bring rocks to place around your candle in the first week, followed by something to represent the rest of the themes during those weeks.
Waldorf/Steiner Verse for Advent: (Beginning the first week, you speak the first two lines, then the second week, you build upon the first by saying the first two lines and adding the next two, etc. By the fourth week, you are saying all eight lines of the verse).
The first light of Advent is the light of stones.
Stones that live in crystals, seashells, and bones.
The second light of Advent is the light of plants.
Plants that reach up to the sun and in the breezes dance.
The third light of Advent is the light of beasts.
The light of hope that we see, in the greatest and the least.
The fourth light of Advent is the human light.
The light of hope and of thought, to know and do what's right.
St. Nicholas Day
St. Nicholas Day is December 6th, after the first week of Advent. St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, encourages generosity, kindness and the idea that it is better to give than receive. Please read more about it HERE if you wish to bring this part of Advent to your family.
After the second week of Advent, the Celebration of Santa Lucia, also known as the festival of lights, happens. Traditionally, a young woman would represent Santa Lucia, and on the morning of December 13th, wearing a white dress with a red sash and a wreath on her head with seven candles upon it, she would go from house to house bringing baked goods. The candles of her headpiece brought a welcoming light to the darkest time of year. You can read more about it HERE
The gift of the light
We shall thankfully take
But it shall not be alone for our sake.
The more we give light,
The one to the other,
It grows and gives light,
And shines even farther.
Until every heart,
By love set aflame
In every place
Great joy shall proclaim.
Not long shall continue the darkness of year.
The light draws near.
The Advent Spiral happens on the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice. Cedar boughs (a symbol of life everlasting) are placed in a spiral forming a path in a darkened room. In the centre of the spiral, there is a large lit candle. With an unlit candle in hand, children and parents take turns walking the path in silence to the centre, where they light their candle and then place it with care along the path as they slowly exit the spiral. As more and more candles are lit, their gentle light begins to glow with the warmth of your family. The reverence of children and parents makes this traditional event one of inspiration and harmony. We are nearing the end of our journey through the darkness, internally and externally, and the light will soon return. This light will bring the promise of a new year that we will approach with a renewed sense of self and emerge from the darkness transformed.
There are so many ways to celebrate Advent and count down to Christmas. Here are a few we found, but you could easily do some more research and find something that would work for your family.
"I carry a light within me
A brightly burning flame.
Though dark may try to win me
It ever shines the same.
It guides me through uncertainty
It warms the wintry weather.
And brings to every burden
The lightness of a feather."
Since Autumn began, there has been a steady diminishing of the sunlight in our lives. This yearly transition has been calling us to kindle the light within ourselves. We have talked about the Festival of Courage in September as a way to ignite a flame that brings courage into the coming darkness. We then discussed celebrating the Festival of Compassion or the Lantern Festival in November as a way to honour the light we have been carrying within us and how that expands and burns brighter in our communities.
Many religions around the world acknowledge this season as the time for the Festival of Light. Each day since Fall began has been a step closer to the darkest day of the year. The beautiful thing about the Winter Solstice is that the darkest night also marks the beginning of the light's slow return. In ancient days, darkness would have brought fear and uncertainty, so marking this time with firelight brought hope and warmth to all. In our modern time, although we have knowledge and certainty that the light will return, it can still be challenging psychologically to manage this darkness with patience. Festival and ritual are a way of marking these important moments in the darkness and creating stepping stones that we can follow back to the light.
Daily Wonder encourages families to explore and learn about the variety of Festivals of Lights around the world. The best way to learn about a new festival is to connect with friends, neighbours and community members who celebrate a different holiday than yourself. If that's not an option for you, check out these links below to learn how to experience various festivals. Connecting with food, music, and ritual is the best way to do this.
Here are a few Festivals of Light that happen around this time of year.
Diwali - India
Follows the Lunar Calendar and is celebrated at the end of October / early November
Diwali is India’s most important festival of the year—a time to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil and the eradication of dark shadows, negativity, and doubts from our lives. It is a celebration of prosperity in which people give gifts to their loved ones. The festival also sends the message of illuminating our inner selves with clarity and positivity. During this festival, people clean their homes, decorate every corner with lights, lamps, flowers, and candles. You can learn more about this festival and ways to celebrate here.
Follows the Lunar Calendar and is celebrated in November / December
A festival celebrated by Jews worldwide, it is observed for a period of eight nights and days anywhere between the end of November and December. Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights or the Feast of Dedication. This holiday celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Maccabean revolt against the Syrian-Greek army. Each night, a candle is lit on the Menorah, which has nine candlesticks — one for each night of Hanukkah and an extra one to light the others. Other traditions include playing Dreidel, eating fried latkes, giving gifts and playing/singing Hanukkah music. You can learn more about this festival and ways to celebrate here.
December 26 - January 1
Kwanzaa was started in 1966 by Dr. Karenga to bring African Americans together as a community. Celebrations often include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a traditional meal. Kwanzaa takes place over seven nights. On each of the seven nights, one of the candles on the Kinara (candleholder) is lit, and one of the seven principles is discussed. The principles, called the Nguzo Saba (seven principles in Swahili), are values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing community among African-Americans. You can read more about this festival including the seven principles here.
Chinese Lantern Festival
Celebrated on the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month, the Lantern Festival traditionally marks the end of the Chinese New Year.
The Chinese Lantern Festival began over 2,000 years ago. The Lantern Festival is the first full moon night in the Chinese calendar, marking the return of spring and symbolizing the reunion of family. Traditional celebrations include enjoying lanterns, lantern riddles, eating tangyuan, a.k.a. yuan xiao (ball dumplings in soup), lion dances, dragon dances, etc. You can learn more about this festival and ways to celebrate here.
When learning about a new cultural or religious festival, genuine interest and wonder allow us to explore cultures other than our own with appreciation, reverence and honour. Through this open-hearted learning journey, we teach our children about the incredible diversity and similarities of our human experience.
Felted Artwork by Mimi Hirsch
The Meaning of Martinmas
Throughout the year, Waldorf schools celebrate festivals to connect with the cycle of nature, establish a yearly rhythm for the children, and strengthen the community. The Festival of Compassion (Martinmas) is celebrated around November 11, between Michaelmas' fiery out-breath and the winter holidays' deep in-breath. Universally, it honours St. Martin's story, patron saint of beggars and outcasts, who was known for his gentleness and his ability to bring warmth and light to those in need. He is best known for his act of kindness toward a poor beggar freezing outside in the cold. Martin used his sword to cut his cloak in two and gave one half to the beggar. This act of compassion, which gave the beggar warmth and hope, is why this festival is also called the Festival of Compassion. Waldorf Schools celebrate this festival by making lanterns with the children and gathering together for an evening Lantern Walk.
The essence of this festival is to acknowledge the light that shines forth from each of us. This light needs to be protected, just as the lights inside our lanterns do, so they don’t blow out.
Autumn is a time to reflect on our inner selves, to find the inner light that will carry us through this time of darkness. It can be an opportunity to know ourselves more deeply. Waldorf schools mark this season of inner searching with three fall festivals to help guide us on this introspection path. In September, the Festival of Courage (Michaelmas) and St. Michael urges us to battle with courage to face and conquer our “dragons”. In early November, there is the Festival of Compassion (Martinmas), where we observe St. Martin’s compassion for others. In December, St. Nicholas brings the gifts of wisdom, reflection, and review upon the year's events. These three figures model strength in the qualities of willing, feeling and thinking.
As we journey into the darkest time of the year, it is increasingly important for each of us to kindle warmth and light in our hearts. The gently glowing lanterns of Martinmas will give way to the candles of the Festival of Wisdom (Advent Spiral) as we draw nearer to the Solstice, showing how our inner light must shine ever brighter against the cold. As nature sleeps, we must be wakeful!
How can you bring this festival to your homeschooling family?
You Could Tell Stories
You could make some lanterns:
There are many ways to make lanterns, all of them fun and easy. The simplest way is to take a glass jar and, using some white glue mixed with a bit of water and a paint brush, glue bits of coloured tissue paper to the outside of the jar. You can glue at random or make pictures and shapes with the tissue paper, whatever works for your family and your children's age level. Adding a handle can be done in various ways, from pipe cleaners to flexible wire; you can even add beads to the handle.
If you have access to beeswax, another way to spend an afternoon with your children is to make a beeswax lantern. You can melt beeswax in a double boiler and dip an inflated balloon halfway into the wax. Let the first layer dry and then dip again and repeat. You can add leaves between layers as well. Once finished, carefully pop the balloon add some sand to the lantern's bottom, then place a tea-light on top of the sand to stop the candle from melting the bottom of your lantern.
There are many other ways to make lanterns. Get creative and have fun!
You could plan a lantern walk:
With your family and perhaps with some other families, you could plan to meet in a park or at some local trails in the early evening when the sun is just setting. With your lanterns lit, you can take a quiet meditative walk while singing some lantern songs.
Here are some lantern songs which are short and easy to learn.
These are meant to be sung 4-8 times over before switching to the next lantern song.
The Sunlight Fast is Dwindling
The sunlight fast is dwindling.
My little lamp needs kindling.
It’s beam shines far in darkest night,
Dear lantern guard me with your light.
Glimmer, Lantern, Glimmer
Glimmer lantern glimmer, little stars a-shimmer
Over meadow, moor and dale
Flitter-flutter, elfin veil
Pee-wit, pee-wit, tic a tic a tic, roo-coo, roo-coo
Glimmer lantern glimmer, little stars a-shimmer
Over rock and stock and stone
Wander tripping little gnome
Pee-wit, pee-wit, tic a tic a tic, roo-coo, roo-coo
I Go with My Bright Little Lantern
I go with my bright little lantern
My lantern is going with me
In heaven the stars are shining
On Earth shines my lantern with me
My light shines bright, through darkest night
La bimba, la bamba, la bim (repeat last 2 lines)
Bring Forth Your Light
Bring forth you gentle spark
Illuminate the dark
Those trembling in the night
Receive your shining light
You could donate to the Food Bank:
As this festival is about compassion, you could follow St. Martin's footsteps and make a donation to the food bank or think of some other way to bring warmth and hope to others.
In this time of turning inward, may you find your light shining brightly and remember that even the tiniest flame can dispel the darkness.
Birthdays are always cause for celebration, especially in Waldorf education. Traditions and rituals help children to experience the rhythm of the year, and celebrating a birthday honours the child’s place in the family and in the world. Below are some suggestions for bringing meaningful traditions to your child's birthday at home.
You can begin the night before. Before bed, you could light a candle and share this verse with your child.
When I have climbed into my bed,
And dreams begin swirling in my head,
And Mother/Father turns off the light,
I’ll still be  years old tonight.
But from the very break of day,
Before the children rise and play,
Before the darkness turns to gold,
Tomorrow, I’ll be  years old!
 kisses when I wake,
 candles on my cake.
Give the number of kisses for their age for the past year and tell them that when they awake, you’ll give one more kiss in the morning.
After your child is asleep, you can 'set the stage' so to speak, for their special day. Some families create a path from the child's bedroom to the area of celebration. This could be done with leaves from outside or cut out paper hearts, seashells, balloons or whatever you feel is appropriate for your family.
In the area you wish to celebrate, you can create a 'birthday table.' This could be as simple as a small table draped with material or silks upon which you can place a wooden birthday ring. The ring usually has 12 - 16 holes around the circle. Each year, you light the numbers of candles your child is turning.
Birthday Crown & Cape:
To make their birthday a royal affair, in the morning, once they have followed the path to the birthday table, you could ceremoniously place a birthday crown on your child’s head, and a birthday cape on their shoulders. Then you could tell them their birthday story.
After lighting the candles, you can tell a 'Birthday Story' that is unique to the child you are telling it too. The story might include a child looking down on the earth from above, seeing their parents and choosing to cross the 'Rainbow Bridge' to join their family on the earth. Below is an example of a possible story you could tell to your child on their birthday and story details can be changed to fit your unique family.
Another option is to save the lighting of the candles until after this first part of the story in the following way...
They looked in awe at this new life and said “We shall call him/her/them ____________ “
(Light the first candle) When (name of child) was 1 (tell a bit about what your child was like at 1 years old and continue each year till the year they are turning) ______
(Light the second candle) When (name of child) was 2 they, ____
(Light the third candle) When (name of child) was 3 ____
(Light the fourth candle) When (name of child) was 4 ____
(Light the fifth candle) When (name of child) was 5 ____
(Light the sixth candle) And now (name of child) is 6 ____
(Light the seventh candle) And now (name of child) is 7!!
Then you can sing your traditional birthday song followed by cake and gifts and other birthday traditions your family already has or is now creating.
The Birthday Book by Ann Druitt has wonderful ideas for bringing meaning in the Waldorf tradition to your child’s special day including ideas for games and activities, recipes, decorations and much more.
There is no right or wrong way to create meaningful birthday celebration so make it your own and have fun!
Daily Wonder recommends that you take time to conduct a baseline assessment when you begin teaching your child each school year. Then, by observing them in everyday activities, you can track their development and become aware of areas that may need extra attention. Below, you will find specific areas to assess, ways to observe your child, and suggested activities to help strengthen particular areas of need.
Children typically favour a dominant side of the body around age seven. You can check if your child has done so by observing them with the following activities.
Crossing the midline is a necessary skill that is related to bilateral coordination. This is the ability to use both sides of the body in a coordinated and organized manner, where one hand is the stabilizer, and the other hand is the performer.
Crossing the midline is the spontaneous movement of one hand, foot, eye into the space of the other hand, foot, eye.
You can see how handwriting requires this skill, as the arm, hand, and eye travel from the left to right, crossing the body's centre. Letter formation also requires this crossing.
Many everyday activities require us to do this; however, some children may need more specific focus to cross the midline fully. Activities that address the hand and foot are easier to practice and can help support the eye and ear to align as well.
Activities to Support Hand Dominance and Crossing the Midline:
Activities to Support Foot Dominance:
Healthy Posture & Pencil Grip
It is essential to have healthy habits when it comes to posture and pencil grip. This will serve your child over the years as the demands for sitting at a desk and writing increase.
Ways to Support Healthy Posture:
Ways to Support Healthy Pencil Grip:
Eye-tracking is an important foundation skill for reading. It’s important to notice whether your child can move their eyes horizontally while their head stays stationary. It is common to observe a tremor at the centre midline, which may indicate difficulty crossing the midline.
We use our memory for imaginative thinking. For example, when we remember something we’ve been told or see, we build imaginative pictures in our brains, leading to high-level thinking. The ability to build pictures takes practice, and we can strengthen this skill through memory games.
Links for More Info & Activities
Establishing Dominance and Crossing the Midline:
What is Michaelmas?
Michaelmas (pronounced Mi-kel-miss) was originally a Christian festival in Western Europe during the Middle Ages. It is the feast day of the archangel St. Michael, and is celebrated at the end of September and beginning of October each year.
Because Michaelmas falls near the equinox, it is commonly associated with the beginning of autumn. Waldorf schools use Michaelmas to teach students the importance of using courage to prepare for the colder, darker, winter months as we begin to feel the impulse to turn inward after the long, warm days of summer, and gather up strength and fortitude to face the colder days and long nights of the winter ahead. In addition to honoring St. Michael and marking the beginning of fall, Michaelmas represents harvest time – a time when people make preparations for the winter.
In Waldorf schools, Michaelmas, or the Festival of Courage, is the first festival of the new school year. Traditionally, Grades children perform the play of St. George taming a fiery dragon with the help of the archangel, St. Michael, who gives him courage. Following the play there is a small harvest themed feast which usually includes fresh baked dragon bread baked by the school children and fruits and vegetables that are in season, like apples and grapes.
The story of taming the dragon symbolizes the inner courage it takes to face our human challenges. As the days grow colder and the nights grow longer, we must find and bring forth our own inner light when the sun, warmth and growth of the earth are fading.
St. Michael, who in some versions of the story, gave courage to St. George and in others, gives courage to all the brave people of the village who have to work together to save themselves. Whatever the version, these stories give us courage to uphold what is right and true, and the strength to face the challenges that lie ahead. The story speaks to children in a deeply symbolic way, feeding their innate need for truth and justice.
“Michaelmas is a great time to ponder our own inner dragons and to cultivate the courage and strength necessary for self development.” – from Waldorf Publications newsletter
Why are Festivals important to Waldorf education?
Festivals allow us to be attuned to the rhythms of the Earth and the community we live in. Regardless of personal beliefs and faith, every human being can connect with the magic and gifts that each turning of the seasons brings.
How can you bring this Festival to your homeschooling family?
Your family can read stories about St. Michael, there are lots to chose from out there. In this first version which is typically told in Waldorf schools, the dragon is slain and this second version, instead the dragon is tamed by St. Michael and becomes a friend to all. You can decide which version is best for your family. Here's a completely different Michaelmas story about stars and courage instead of dragons. The key element of these stories and the Michaelmas festival as a whole, is that it celebrates inner strength and courage.
Here is an Autumn verse:
Golden light is turning grey,
Mists begin to rule the day.
Bare the trees, their branches lift;
Clouds of dead leaves earthward drift.
Through the field the farmer goes,
Seeds of ripened corn he sows;
Trusts the earth will hold it warm,
Shelter it from cold and harm.
For he knows, that warmth and light
Live there, hidden from our sight;
And beneath a sheltering wing,
Deep below, new life will spring!
Deep below, deep below, new life will spring!
And an Autumn Blessing:
Brave and true will I be,
Each good deed sets me free,
Each kind word makes me strong.
I will fight for the right!
I will conquer the wrong!
Sword of Michael brightly gleaming,
Down to earth its light is streaming,
May we see its shining rays
In the Winter’s darkest days.
Your family can spend a morning making bread and forming it into the shape of a dragon and invite friends over to share a fall harvest feast. This is a beautiful story you can tell your children while you are preparing the dragon bread, as well as a recipe.
Earth who gives to us this food
Sun who makes it ripe and good
Sun above, Earth below
Our loving thanks to you we show
Visit this site for for 10 traditional Michaelmas songs.
Michaelmas Hands-on Activity:
When we once ran our little Waldorf school, for Michaelmas one year, we had students create a paper mâché dragon. Michaelmas is the Festival of Courage and a time to gather our strength to overcome the shadows within us, shadows like bad habits. We asked students and families to write any bad habits they were wanting to free themselves of on pieces of paper. Then we had them place those inside the dragon's mouth to later be consumed by fire thereby releasing them. After the festival, the dragon was brought to safe place on a family's property to be burned. You could easily create this at home with your child(ren) in the way that would work best for you.
Fun Outdoor Activities:
Go outside and choose activities that require strength, courage, and bravery, such as; going on a challenging hike, having a tug-of-war with friends and family, and having a scavenger hunt for “dragon eggs” (these can be small gourds spray-painted gold).
Michaelmas is the beginning of the fall season, and the beauty of homeschooling is that these activities can be extended and enjoyed throughout October.
As Parents, this is a wonderful opportunity to use this time to focus on our inner work and spiritual growth. Take time for meditation and journal writing, and think about the areas you would like to grow.
Whether you do none of the activities, some of them, or all of them plus more, whether you celebrate with just your family or beyond, may you find your inner strength and courage as we head into these darker days.
“Celebrating festivals illuminates our life on earth with heavenly meaning and shows us the significance of our human existence in the universe. We human beings stand between the two worlds uniting them in ourselves. We are the crossing point where the upper circle representing the heavens flows into the lower one belonging to the earth.”
– Evelyn Frances Derry, Festivals and Seasons
Throughout the year, we can celebrate festivals to connect us with the cycle of nature, establish a yearly rhythm for our children, and strengthen our community.
Autumn is a time to reflect on our inner selves, to find the inner light that will carry us through this time of darkness. It can be an opportunity to know ourselves more profoundly. We can mark this season of inner searching with fall festivals to help guide us on this path of introspection. Our ancestors must have spent many transitions from summer to fall worrying and doubting whether the sun would ever return to its full brightness. This time of year triggers feelings of doubt, fear, and anxiety, possibly stemming from our ancestors' times around fires in the darkness of the year. Seeking comfort, our ancestors would have shared stories and songs as nourishing soul food. The flickering light of the fire would have been a beacon of hope. It's helpful to honour the shared human experience of the seasons when heading into Fall. It is very healing to acknowledge feelings of darkness by bringing them into the light. As nature begins to go to sleep around us, we also feel this downward pull to sleep. It's fair to say that this is also when seasonal depression is common. Instead of unconsciously emanating what's happening outside of us, this is a call to create a strong inner light. Everything that we joyfully soaked up during the summertime, from the beauty of the flowers and trees to the long hours of sunlight, can be harvested now as inner light. When we celebrate this call to kindle our inner light, it is most beneficial to participate in rituals with others. Celebrating together brings depth and meaning to the experience.
There are as many ritual and celebrations to choose from as there are communities in the world. It is a beautiful process to choose the ritual that works best for your family based on laocation, values and beliefs, and community. Here are some things you may want to include in your seasonal celebrations;
We'd love to hear about how your family honours the light. Be sure to share with us in the comments below.
Explore schedules, rhythms & routines, songs, music, festivals, free play, meals, projects & more to support your homeschooling program.
The Wonder Squad