Davis Waldorf School
Community Life

Festivals and Celebrations

This page describes the festivals and celebrations at Davis Waldorf School. For information about dates for this year's festivals and events, please see our school calendar and www.daviswaldorf.org/events
At the Davis Waldorf School, we celebrate universal spirituality. Our school’s interest in spiritual matters is aimed at awakening the child’s natural reverence for the wonder and beauty of life. While religion is not taught at our school, we do observe traditions associated with Christianity, Judaism, and other religions, when appropriate. We recognize and honor the diverse faiths of all our families.

Seasonal festivals, including the major Christian festivals of Christmas and Easter, are observed in the classroom and at school assemblies. The curriculum itself, through the Old Testament and Hebrew studies, Norse, Indian, Egyptian, Roman and Greek mythologies, provides many opportunities to share other religious and cultural traditions in the classroom.

We like to acknowledge and share the religious customs and celebrations enjoyed by our families. If you are interested in celebrating special holidays in your child's classroom, we encourage you to give suggestions to your child’s Class Teacher. Parent participation helps to make these festivals meaningful and special. Parents are welcome to keep their children home in observance of their own religious holidays.

We feel that the ceremonies and rituals associated with the rhythms of the seasons of nature help reveal the deeper significance in many everyday occurrences. The living rhythms of the year, though taken up in each class in different ways, help provide a common foundation for the children.

Children love preparing for the festivals by decorating the room, baking special treats, learning special songs, etc. Nature stories, songs, poetry, and special tales help bring deeper significance of the season to the children in a pictorial way.

Beautification Day
Held on Saturday in late August, families gather together to garden, weed, help with projects and clean up our campus before the children come back to school.
Opening Day Rose Ceremony
On the first day of school for the grades, we commence the school year by introducing the new year’s classes/teachers. We give parents a glimpse into the curriculum that will be delivered for that year.  The new first grade class is welcomed into the grades by our eighth grade class.  The eighth graders present a rose to each child, establishing their bond as first and eighth grade “buddies” for the next year.  The buddy pairs then take a tour of the school together and bring them into their new classroom.  First grade parents create a sunflower arch in front of the classroom for the buddies as they enter their classroom for the first time.
Back to School Picnic
The DWS community picnics on the lawn to kick off the new school year, get important information for the year and get to know new families and rekindle old friendships. Music, dance and camaraderie mark this event. 
The Michaelmas festival takes place in late September where we have a play and all school pageant about conquering a troublesome dragon.  Michaelmas is most commonly celebrated in Europe, but the message of courage in the face of evil is universal and timeless. Michael is an archangel mentioned in the Bible, Apocrypha, and the Koran.  He appears as a spiritual figure and protector of human kind, inspiring strength and courage.  The motif of the dragon conqueror can be seen in Chinese art, in Apollo and the serpent, in Krishna slaying demons, and in the story of Saint George and the Dragon.  Michael overcoming the dragon with his sword of light is an image that calls us all to be courageous, to take command of the dragon and transform it.  The students learn that everyone has their own “dragon” – fear, greed, thoughtlessness, or apathy.  Michael’s qualities of courage, compassion, and steadfastness can be an inspiration to greatness.
All Hallow's Eve
All Hallow’s Eve, or as it is better known, Halloween, was originally one of the four Celtic “cross” festivals; that is, a festival occurring at time between, instead of on, the Solstice or Equinox. It falls at a time of growing darkness, when the shadows are lengthening and the sun moves down through the sky. At one time celebrated as a year’s end/beginning, it was thought that at this point the veil between the physical world and the spiritual world was thinner and that movement between the two was possible. It was a time of purification and guarding against those spirits who would cause harm to humanity. It was also a time to honor those friends and companions who had passed on to the other side. It was thought that by acknowledging and honoring the darker side of existence, we would gain the power to resist that which is harmful.

At DWS, we celebrate Halloween with a blend of the old and the new. Families of all ages (ideally for children in fourth grade and younger) enjoy the “Protected Path,” a journey through the world of vignettes, fairy tales, and far-off lands. Led by an “Angel Guide,” they hear stories and gather treats along the way. On the “Perilous Path” we give children a chance to venture into the world of darkness in a way that is both safe and a bit challenging. The students in fifth grade and older travel the Perilous Path alone, facing challenges to be overcome and a treasure to be won at the end. Our evening ends gathered around a bonfire for singing, food, and sharing of treats and tales of wonders seen.

Costume Note: We ask that your child wear a “traditional” Halloween costume rather than one that reflects a commercial “character” theme. Suggestions: pirate, fairy, princess, dragon, knight, etc. No scary masks or makeup, please.

Day of the Dead
Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and in other cultures around the world. At one time it was thought that at this point the veil between the physical world and the spiritual world was thinner and that movement between the two was possible.  It was also a time to honor those friends and companions who had passed on to the other side.
The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died.  It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where it is a national holiday.  The celebration at DWS takes place on or near November 1st where we set up a display in the breezeway where students and community members can display photos and mementos of loved ones.
The kindergarten and the 2nd Grade each holds a lantern walk (on separate evenings) on or around November 11th.  They light the lanterns they have made, sing the lantern songs they have learned during Morning Gathering Circle and walk around the school grounds as it gets dark.  

Gratitude Day
During the week before Thanksgiving break, the students make gratitude notes which are hung on a tree for all to view.  On Friday, classes may also organize a simple community meal.    
Winter Spiral
December 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 Winter Garden, the children receive, in reverence, the light for their own candles which they place around the spiral of evergreens.
The Grades students celebrate during the four weeks of the Advent (meaning “anticipation”) season on Monday mornings in December at an opening assembly that includes the lighting of candles on a wreath and the recitation of a verse that observe s the kingdoms of minerals, plants, animals, and humans.
Saint Nicholas Day
Celebrated on or around December 6th for Preschool through grade 4, a special visitor may leave some treats in the children’s shoes.  St. Nicholas (the original Santa Claus or Sinter Klaus in Holland). 
Santa Lucia
Following an old Italian and Swedish tradition, crowned with lighted candles, the oldest girl in the second grade leads a Santa Lucia processional with song, delivering traditional cookies or bread from class to class. 
Family Craft Day
Family Craft Day is held on a Saturday in early December offering live music, storytelling, food, and the opportunity to make seasonal craft projects.  Dipping candles, tin-tapping, building gnome homes, folding window stars, are just a few examples of the day’s activities.  Family Craft Day is a non-commercial way to welcome in the holidays and to make handmade gifts for loved ones, while supporting our 6th, 7th and 8th Grades and handwork program with this fundraiser. 
Winter Concert
The winter concert is held on a December afternoon/evening concert, featuring seasonal instrumental music, poetry, and songs performed by Grades students and faculty.  This can be joyous way to welcome in the holiday season and is a signature event that many grandparents and friends enjoy attending.
All School Open House
Held in February, our Open House showcases the work of the children!  Each classroom, preschool - 8th grade, will be open with samples of work on display (grades only). The multi-purpose room will showcase our grades subjects and the subject teachers will be on hand for you to meet.  We will also have our summer camp represented. The Davis Waldorf Fiddlers will round out the experience.  Open to the public, this is a great event to bring friends and family to show them what a Waldorf school looks like. 
St. Valentine's Day
Celebrated on or around February 14th, Valentine’s Day is celebrated by creating special crafts, a focus on kindness in our stories and songs, and sharing our sentiments of friendship with one another. Observation of Valentine’s Day is at the discretion of the class teacher.
Grades Grandparents and Special Friends Day
Each child in grades 1 – 3 has the opportunity to invite a grandparent or special friend to spend a morning at school.  The event includes a school tour with observations in several classrooms, a Q and A session about Waldorf education, time spent with the child in his or her classroom and performances by the students.

Annual Benefit Event
Our annual Benefit Event is always a fun evening out for parents and their friends and family to get together as a group and raise funds to support our school.  A live and silent auction is part of the evening filled with food, drinks and dancing.  Plan on supporting our school by bidding on unique items and class projects to support DWS.

Spring Concert
Our springtime evening concert, features our strings and band classes in a variety of musical offerings, from small ensembles to large group numbers and usually featuring 8th grade soloists.  This is an impressive event that many grandparents and friends enjoy attending. 

May Faire
Our May Faire is a festive celebration of Spring filled with flowers and song. May Faire is held on the first Saturday in May and features festive music, arts and crafts, games and activities, food, a puppet show, a petting zoo and vendors offering unique items.  Kindergarten students search for and find the members of the Royal Court(usually DWS alumni) and all students participate in the May Faire processional to their throne.  Students of the eighth grade, clothed in all white, perform traditional May Pole dances with colorful ribbons.  They are accompanied by live, traditional music performed by the 7th grade and others.  Attended by as many as 500 community members, it is a beautiful way to welcome in Spring. 

Closing Rose Ceremony
We “promote” each class to their new grade at this gathering.  All families are welcome to join us as we celebrate the year’s end. During the Closing Rose Ceremony, the 8th grade class is recognized by their teacher to acknowledgement and honor this time of completion of their education at our school.  Each 1st Grader presents a rose to their 8th Grade Buddy in a parting gesture of warm appreciation and love.  

The Saturday after the last day of school, we welcome the whole community to the graduation of the eighth grade class.  Students perform music, speak about their experience, and receive their diplomas and greet the community as Alumni for the first time.  This is an inspiring and beautiful day.  

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