At the Winter Solstice, on Christmastide, the Earth breathes in. The seed babies are deep underground and the animals, in their shaggy coats, are warm in their barns or dens. We draw the stars into our homes by lighting candles and placing lights on our trees. Our outdoor activities are reduced dramatically. And we become more contemplative as we focus inward on spirit, self, family, and relationships.
The most significant image at Christmastide is that of a birth surrounded by love. The birth of the Light of the World just after the longest night, the winter solstice. We celebrate the birth of the Christ Child, as the new light, the new hope, the new way of being for humanity, as we welcome the return of the sun.
What has become often a mere festival of gifts cannot be said to have the same meaning as what the Christmas festival meant to people for many centuries in the past. Through the celebration of this festival the souls used to blossom forth with hope-filled joy, with hope-borne certainty, and with the awareness of belonging to a Spiritual Being, Who descended from Spiritual heights, and united Himself with the earth, so that every human soul of good may share in His powers.”
~ Rudolf Steiner
This is a special time in the classroom. The children enter into a candle lit classroom every morning through December. The mood is quiet and magical. Sometimes the snow is falling; usually it is quite dark. We then begin the morning singing Christmas carols – some are silly, most are reverent.
In this dark, cold time of year, when it seems there is no life around us, that nature has forsaken us, we also feel this anticipation of something exciting to come. Certainly, Mary and Joseph were on an adventure. Certainly many of us have experienced the adventure of moving on. There is trepidation too, but adventure all the same. The assemblies, the Advent lunches, the singing, the candles – all of these things will form the memories of our time together and sustain us in our future adventures.
Oberufer Shepherds’ Play
Each year, on the last day of school before the winter break, the faculty and staff perform The Shepherds’ Play as a gift to the students and parents. Performing this reverential and humorous medieval nativity play is a tradition observed in most Waldorf Schools throughout the world.
From Heaven above to you I bring A blessed word of good tiding.
Yea, News of joy and mirth this day To all mankind I sing and say.
~ The Angel from The Oberufer Shepherds’ Play