The school community hosts a variety of seasonal festivals throughout the year. Festival days are a source of joy and enrichment for all. Our annual festivals include Michaelmas, Martinmas, Winter Spiral and Mayfest. Your family will be asked to help with Michaelmas (autumn) or Mayfest (spring).

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Michaelmas (October)

Michaelmas is an ancient festival that dates back to the sixth century and coincides with the autumnal equinox. Legends describe St. Michael facing and taming a dragon. The motif of a conqueror of the dragon is also echoed in stories of Apollo and the serpent, Krishna and the demons, and St. George and the dragon. It is a festival that celebrates deeds of strength and courage, of facing “dragons” both external and internal. Waldorf schools celebrate Michaelmas as a harvest festival; a time of celebration, a time of seeking balance within oneself, between light and darkness, and a time to embrace the challenges which we meet in life. The OVWS Michaelmas festival includes a pageant put on by the grade school children, singing, games, challenges, seasonal craft activities, apple picking and pressing, and a picnic lunch.

Martinmas/Lantern Walk (November)

* Early Education and grades 1 & 2

The history of Martinmas/Lantern Walk comes from the French legend of Saint Martin of Tours. Martin was a soldier in the 4th Century. Legend says that one wintry night he met a poor beggar, half naked and freezing. He removed his cloak, cut it in two, and gave half to the beggar. Martin represents the attitude of brotherliness, a devotion to humankind, and the ability to bring warmth and light to those in darkness. According to old customs, as the days become shorter and the stars appear earlier, children would walk with lanterns through the streets singing. Our lantern walk is a simple, short, beautiful experience for the children. Here at the Orchard Valley Waldorf School we work with the idea of creating an inner and outer light to help guide us all through this approaching dark time of the year. Seeing the children carrying their outer lights through the darkness reminds us of the unique individuality and inner light of each child.

Winter Spiral (December)

The Winter Spiral is a simple festival of lights with roots in the rural Bavarian folk-culture. In 1926 the pedagogical-therapeutic practice of walking a spiral and the Bavarian “winter garden” combined to create a new ritual that celebrates bringing light into the darkness of December. At OVWS children carry apples with candles inserted in their cores, walking in darkness along a spiral path made of fir boughs and moss towards a central light at the center of the spiral, lighting their candle at that center, and then setting their apple and candle along the spiral on their way out, to add light for the next person walking in.

In many Waldorf schools throughout the United States it is customary to hold Winter Spiral in December. The essence of the festival is one of peaceful anticipation. What begins as a labyrinth of darkness, gradually grows into a shimmering spiral of light. In community, our spirits shining together shed a beautiful, bright light!

Mayfest (May)

This ancient celebration of spring brings beauty to our campus and our lives as we move through the cycle of the seasons. In early May, we welcome spring and the season of growth and light at the East Montpelier campus with class performances around the maypole, fun activities for the whole family and a wonderful opportunity for our extended community to visit our school and share in this day of merriment. The festival begins with the always-entertaining domestic dispute between King Winter and Lady Spring. Special dances by Grades 3, 4 and 5 are one of the day’s special features, followed by activities for everyone.