The Michaelmas Festival
The Michaelmas Festival is the Festival of Strength and Courage. It is a harvest festival, and yet encompasses so much more. The festival derives its name from the legend of the earthly battle of Michael (in other traditions, George) with the dragon. Students delight in hearing the classic clash of the knight against the fire-breathing beast. As the children grow older, they begin to see behind the story, behind the metaphor, and recognize the truth of the battle each one of us wages against the shadows (the dragons) in our lives.
For some of us it is the battle against bad habits, against differing degrees of addiction, against overwhelming odds in our personal life brought about, for example, by relationships, job, or financial challenges. The lesson of the story for the children (and perhaps for us as adults as well) is that we can overcome the challenges, but we must first muster the courage to face them. The knight in the story exemplifies the human frailty we feel when standing before overwhelming odds. What a terror to face a wild, fire-breathing beast with claws the length of my arm and teeth the length of my leg! However, the knight discovers that his biggest challenge to overcome is his own fear. Once he has mastered fear, the battle is not quite as daunting. This is an essential lesson for the children. It is fear alone that often keeps them from stepping forward to try something new—or to reach for their dreams.
To honor this event, we hold a special day of celebrations at Juniper Ridge. We gather at an assembly and share stories with one another of strength and courage. We admire our own hoarded dragon-treasure (see Food Drive below). We sing songs together and some classes may perform for the whole. We even get to hear a story! Then we witness the enactment of the battle with the dragon (not to be missed!). We end the day with games of strength and courage.
The Michaelmas Food Drive
One of the nasty distinguishing traits of a dragon is that it is driven to hoard. It collects coin, precious gems and food, with no greater goal than to sit on it and keep anyone else from using it. At this time of year, we want to use the dragon’s methods against him. We call for a Food Drive over the two weeks before our Michaelmas festival. Just like a dragon, we collect, gather and hoard…and then we give away every bit of it to those less fortunate than ourselves. Please support this venture. We are collecting only non-perishable items. Send these items with your students to the classroom. Then come and see what we have amassed at our festival.