Santa Lucia Day at the Waldorf School of Atlanta

Santa Lucia at the Waldorf School of Atlanta

Santa Lucia at the Waldorf School of Atlanta

At the Waldorf School of Atlanta,  Grade 2 teachers introduce stories where contrasting human qualities are portrayed. Wonder tales and legends of Saints from around the world show lofty striving and highlight noble human qualities, while animal fables and trickster tales satisfy the child’s interest in mischief.   The study of Saints is brought to life beautifully in this letter from a Grade 2 teacher to the parents of her class about Santa Lucia Day.

This season brings many beautiful events to the school, classroom and community. In addition to the Advent Spiral, enjoying a visit from Saint Nicholas, and the school assembly, the second grade is working on the yearly Santa Lucia celebration for the school.  The story of Santa Lucia dates back to the Middle Ages.  She is known for bringing food and care to the people of Sweden during a harsh time of famine.  She wore a wreath of candles on her head so that she had her hands free to offer food and lingonberries to symbolize new life in winter.  The children are practicing their Santa Lucia song as they prepare to walk through the school with their own lights and song to share with all of the classes.

Sophia Szombathy, Grade 2 teacher

st lucia in grade 2 IMG_4651

Through silent winter gloom
thy song comes winging to
Waken the earth anew.
Glad carols bringing.
Come thou O Queen of
Night wearing thy crown so
bright.  Santa Lucia. Santa Lucia.
st lucia on the way to kindergarten IMG_4659

Shepherd’s Play at the Waldorf School of Atlanta

Many years, the Waldorf School of Atlanta offers the Shepherd’s Play as a gift to our community.  Teachers, Parents and Friends of the school organize, rehearse and perform this play.

shepherds play image

 The Shepherd’s Play was found and written down in the middle of the 19th century from the small island of Oberufer on the Danube, close to the borders of Austria and Hungary. Some time in the early 16th or 17th century, a group of German people had migrated there from the neighborhood of Lake Constance. They had taken with them the cycle of religious plays which they had received by tradition from their ancestors. When the plays were collected the parts were still hereditary in certain families. No complete copy existed but each family treasured a manuscript of the words of one particular part. Surrounded as they were by people of a different nation, and speaking a different language, the peasants of Oberufer preserved unaltered both the text itself and the tradition of acting.

In the autumn, after harvest, the peasants who were to take part met together and rehearsals began. All parts were played by men, as in the Elizabethan theatre, and during the time of rehearsal, all members of the cast had to lead (as far as they could) a moral and respectable life, abstaining alike from visits to alehouses and from the singing of bawdy songs. Before the actual performance the whole company went in procession through the village.

The form of the play is such that the actors sing a song in procession, after which the characters concerned come forward and act what has just been sung, while the rest of the company seat themselves at the back or side of the stage.

The Shepherds Play is a beloved tradition in most Waldorf Schools, a gift from the adult community to the children. We are happy to share this play with you and wish you a joyous and blessed Christmas season.

 

In my heart a shepherd

In my head a king

Before the child together

They offer what they bring.

The heart will fire the head

The head will light the heart

The Spirit Child within

Will know Love’s healing art.

–From Notes by A.C. Harwood

Waldorf School of Atlanta - shepherds play  cast & crew

Advent in a Kindergarten Classroom at the Waldorf School of Atlanta

advent 4 weeks

As we move into Advent time, the classroom is cleared of the abundance of autumn to create an open space for life and goodness to come. There is a vine wreath on the table in the classroom with four candles. One is for each Sunday before Christmas. The first week of Advent honors the earth – the mineral world. The second week, we behold the plant world. Greenery and flowers are added to the wreath and classroom. The third week, we honor the animal world. During this week there are often conversations about some of the dear animal pets that live with the children.

The fourth week of Advent, we light a candle for humanity. In this dark time of year, we as human beings must let our inner light shine out to others. This is the verse we say as we light the candles:

The first light of Advent is the light of the stones,

That live in the seashells, crystals, and bones.

The second light of Advent is the light of the plants,

That reach up to the sun and in the breezes dance.

The third light of Advent is the light of the beasts;

The light of hope that we may see in the greatest and in the least.

The fourth light of Advent is the light of humankind

The light of love, the light of thought, to know and understand.

~Rudolf Steiner

~Annamay Keeney

Kindergarten Teacher

This article originally appeared in the December 2010 edition of the Garden Breeze newsletter of the Waldorf School of Atlanta.  

FAMILY RHYTHMS AND THE HOLIDAYS FROM WSA’S PARENT ENRICHMENT CLASS

Linden Tree Photography 2011 Advent Spiral 013

We are in the midst of the Holiday Season, with its joyful sharing, various festival celebrations of light, and special visits with treasured family and friends. It can also be a stressful time for families who are seeking to maintain a sense of regularity and familiar rhythms for their children, while also wanting to enjoy the change of pace that visiting with loved ones can bring.

Here are a few simple suggestions to add to or affirm your parenting wisdom at holiday time:

1. Just knowing and acknowledging that daily life may be different for a little while can be very helpful.

2. The most important rhythm, especially for our children under 7, would be the bedtime rhythm. While it may be later than usual, do include as much of the normal routines as possible; if traveling, do pack any familiar dolls/teddy bears, and books to support familiarity.

3. If your child still naps, do support a nap rhythm as much as possible.

4. While striving for regularity, do be flexible, and enjoy the change of pace that awaits you.

5. Notice, and attend to, stresses that may arise for yourself. Allow yourself a break, stepping outside, a ‘time out’ as needed. Just adding a few extra conscious breaths to your day can make all the difference.

6. Verbally preparing your child that things will be different can also go a long way in supporting their experience of the holiday season.

7. Do share, if possible, and if helpful, with family and friends, your routines that will support your child’s enjoyment of the holiday season. Including them in your plans of achieving a sense of regularity, may go a long way in friends and family supporting your efforts.

8. No matter how cold, do include outside time everyday or as much as possible, for you and your family; from walks in the neighborhood, to hikes in a favorite park, the invigorating cold winter air can renew everyone’s spirits; there is no wrong weather, only wrong clothing!

These are just a few ideas that can support a meaningful holiday season for all families.

~Sara Michelson,

Class Facilitator, Morning Garden Teacher

sleeping child at HF

This article was originally printed in the December 2010 edition of the Garden Breeze newsletter of the Waldorf School of Atlanta.  

Advent at the Waldorf School of Atlanta

tissue paper stars

 

Thoughts for Advent

 Asleep is the soul of the Earth

In Summer’s heat,

While the Sun’s outward glory

Rays through the realms of space.

Awake is the Soul of Earth

In Winter’s cold,

While the Sun’s inmost Being

Lightens in Spirit.

Summer’s day of joy

For Earth is sleep.

Winter’s holy night

For Earth is day.

~ Rudolf Steiner

 

Rudolf Steiner relays a beautiful image of Advent.  At this time of darkening days, there is an inner light in the depths of each Human Being’s and the Earth’s soul.  The rising cold which marks the winter season is our invitation to look deeply within our own being and freely radiate warmth and light to all around us.  With our dear partner Earth, we live through the season’s changes to bring renewal of life and beauty to all the magnificent kingdoms on Earth.

The gift of 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

~Ashley du Pont

Community Chair

This article originally appeared in the December 2011 edition of the Garden Breeze Newsletter of the Waldorf School of Atlanta.  

Linden Tree Photography 2011 Advent Spiral 006

 

 

The Advent Garden at the Waldorf School of Atlanta

Linden Tree Photography 2011 Advent Spiral 006

As with so many festivals of early Winter, bringing light into the darkness is the essence of the Advent Garden. The form of the involuting and outgoing spiral was one that Dr. Rudolf Steiner gave as a form recommended to walk involving the whole child and their sensory systems. Form drawing is part of the curriculum in Waldorf schools, and children experience these forms in many ways, drawing them and walking them for instance. Around 1923 children in the first Waldorf Schools walked this form, but it was not until around 1926 when Bavarian farmers and a German nurse came together to create the custom of the garden. They laid out the spiral with moss and evergreens with a central candle, which was raised on a mount. The candles were brought in, carried by each child as they walked the spiral holding their apple with the candle in it. As they came to the center and lit their candle they placed it along the path on their way out, and the garden glowed with light.

This experience of beauty, music and solitude resonate with this time of outer darkness, and renewing our inner light. Diwali, Winter Solstice, Chanukah, Kwanzaa and Christmas are some of the festivals that include this element of light, along with the qualities of mystery, gratitude, generosity, and the upholding of high ideals kindled within us.

The children experience coming into a darkened room, hearing lyre, violin, guitar or flute music playing softly, and waiting their turn to receive the apple with an unlit candle and being led to the beginning of the path. They walk the path showing us all so much by how they navigate their way, and their own special walk. It is beautiful to watch, and hold with reverence. The children experience this wonder without explanation. The event has of course brought some parents to quiet tears, or a very quiet chuckle – or both, as they watch their child and dear classmates.

At the Waldorf School of Atlanta this festival is for kindergarten through second grade. Some classes have extended it in different forms further into the grades with a labyrinth or walking outside at night. Some classes let it “rest” after second and then bring the essence of this festival in a different way. The high school students at Academe of the Oaks look forward to walking the spiral again, understanding in a whole new way what they experienced when they were little.

“What a different time it is today, how much greater is the need, the need to go into the darkness, spreading the light as we go out.” ~ Christof-Andreas Lindenberg

~Annie Sommerville-Hall

Preschool/Kindergarten Teacher

Linden Tree Photography 2011 Advent Spiral 003

 

 

This article originally appeared in the December 2011 edition of the Garden Breeze newsletter of the Waldorf School of Atlanta.