Like many other Waldorf schools, Ashwood observes a number of annual festivals. Some of these events are celebrated with the participation of families and/or the wider community. Others are in-school festivals that may or may not include the participation of parents.

Many of our festivals are based in European traditions, reflecting the continental origins of Waldorf education. Recently, the faculty has made a commitment to consider our festival life with an eye to making it more inclusive and reflective of our own deepest values. This process takes time, however, and while we consider and plan, we will continue to hold the the winter festivals in our traditional way.

One of Ashwood’s in-school traditions is Saint Nicholas Day, celebrated on a school day closest to December 7. This year, we will celebrate on Monday, December 7. On this day, unseen, Saint Nicholas visits the school, leaving surprises for the children. Each classroom celebrates this in-school event in a unique way. Here is an article and video from our friend and former colleague Sarah Baldwin about how Waldorf schools and families typically celebrate this festival.

Another of our in-school festivals is Santa Lucia Day. Celebrated throughout Sweden on December 13, this festival commemorates Lucia of Syracuse, a symbol of hope and light during the dark of winter. At Ashwood, the second grade usually takes up this festival, following the curricular indication to study “saints and heroes”— men and women throughout history and across cultures who have worked to create a better world. At Ashwood, the children don white tunics and walk in candlelit procession behind Lucia, usually played by the eldest second grade girl, singing and passing out spice cookies to each of the children in school. This year, we will celebrate Santa Lucia Day on Friday, December 11.

Finally, the Winter Spiral of Light celebrates the turning point in the year when the days are shortest and nights long. In this festival the children honor the light that each of them brings to the world, particularly when that light is shared with others. As they walk a spiral of evergreens decorated with shells and other natural objects, children light a candle from a central taper and place their light along the spiral. This year, the Winter Spiral of Light will be celebrated outdoors or in one of our tents. Time and date for this festival will be forthcoming. Regretfully, we will not be able to offer a time for adults and alumni to walk the spiral this year because of COVID restrictions.