The Advent Festival
One of the most important aspects of a Waldorf education is the celebration of festivals. In our modern, urban lives, it becomes perhaps even more important to highlight nature’s key transitional points as ways of reminding us that, in spite of how it may seem, we are not separate from nature. In addition to helping to keep this knowledge intact within our children, the celebration of festivals helps to establish a yearly rhythm of celebration and anticipation for them and is connected with the building of community. The festivals help to nourish our souls through the sharing of beautiful stories, lovingly prepared food, joyous songs and engaging activities.
The Advent festival that we celebrate in Waldorf schools invites us to be vulnerable to our longing for meaning and open to our hope for the manifestation of the highest ideals that we carry in the depths of our hearts. As we proceed through the four-week festival, we are acutely aware that longer periods of darkness are descending on us, virtually every day. This darkness stirs our yearning for light – sunlight, as well as Spiritual Light, and then, at the darkest time of year, a miracle happens – “new light is born.”
Although originating in pre-Christian traditions, the symbolism used in our Advent festival is developed from Christianity. The essence is universal and is expressed in various ways through various traditions. Specifically, the Latin word, “adventus” means, “coming.” What is it that is coming, and how do we prepare for it? We can get clues by considering how we approached the birth of our own children. During the period of gestation, we anticipated the joy and wonder of bringing a new child into the world. We prepared for the event with tremendous care, devotion and tenderness, along with touches of nervousness. From the darkness of the womb, a baby emerged into the light of the world, bringing his or her light into our lives, with the potential to have a powerful, “light-filled” impact on the world. Advent and Christmas include all of that, as a new light, a new hope, a new way of being for humanity is born. Advent provides us with the opportunity to become in touch with all that is implied in this.
Dec 2011 Bulletin, pg 8