A Year Filled with CelebrationFestivals & Events
Being part of a Waldorf school means becoming part of a community that celebrates the cycles of the year through a rich festival life. Celebrating these festivals helps us to connect with the cycles of nature and establish a yearly rhythm for our children. Through these festivals, the school cultivates community among children, teachers, parents and friends.
Festivals help us to nourish our souls through the sharing of stories, food, songs and activities linked to the seasons and expressed with beauty and reverence. What follows is a list of the common reoccurring festivals and special events in the school calendar. In addition to the community wide festivals listed here, teachers celebrate other festivals in the classroom, including those connected to different cultures being studied.
First Day Assembly & Rose Ceremony
Each school year at Juniper Ridge Community School begins with a Rose Ceremony welcoming our new first grade classes and new students. As each of our first grader’s name is called, they are escorted by an eighth grade student to the stage to accept a rose from their new first grade teacher. After each first grader receives their rose, the student body is treated to a wonderful story told by one of the first grade teachers.
This simple ceremony is celebrated in many Waldorf schools around the world and is a reflection of the beauty, kindness and care given to all students, each year, at JRCS.
Kindergarten Rainbow Bridge Ceremony
Kindergartners at Juniper Ridge Community School start and end their year with a symbolic walk under the Rainbow Bridge.
In the fall, children stand with their parents and anxiously await to have their name called. When they do, they leave their parents and a take a special trip under the Rainbow Bridge to be greeted by their new teacher and start an exciting year of kindergarten.
Michaelmas: A Celebration of Courage
Michaelmas, as it is observed in Waldorf schools, is the “festival of courage”. It derives its name from the legend of the earthly battle of Michael (in other traditions, George) with the dragon.The knight in the story exemplifies the human frailty we feel when standing before overwhelming odds. 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 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.
Parents are welcome to attend. We cannot pull this off without parental planning and help. This event is only possible with parent volunteers. Please sign onto the volunteer page.
Harvest Celebration & Potluck
We end our Michaelmas Festival with a school community potluck and harvest celebration in the evening. This event is hosted by the JRCS Parent Council and is a community favorite!
Halloween Day Parade
Halloween is a children’s favorite. We offer students the opportunity to show off their costumes in a school-wide Halloween Parade. This takes place at the end of the school day on October 31, or the nearest last day of school before Halloween. Children who do not wish to participate are welcome to stand on the sidelines and enjoy the display of costumes. Please help to ensure that your child is following the costume guidelines included in the JRCS Family Handbook.
Martinmas & Lantern Walk
Down with Darkness, Up with Light!
As autumn progresses nature no longer provides us with the gift of long days and abundant sunshine. To keep our spirits raised, we have entered the season of a succession of light festivals, stemming from various cultures. This is a time when we bundle up against the cold, yet find opportunities to let the warmth in our hearts shine forth in acts of kindness and good cheer.
On November 11 (or the closest school day) we hold our annual Lantern Walk. Traditionally, this event is reserved for the Kindergarten and first and second graders. Students make lanterns in the classroom and then we gather just before dark, light our lanterns and sing lantern songs as we process around the property.
As in the words of one of the lantern songs: Each of us is one small light, but together we shine bright!
Sharing the Light
This is the season of growing darkness. Juniper Ridge offers numerous opportunities for the children to experience how different cultures maintain the inner light and keep it kindled. Halloween, with its lit Jack o’ Lanterns in the evening darkness, starts this season off. Our Lantern Walk is another such event. December, as the darkest month of the year, offers several more. It is an essential part of our curriculum to share with the children the way different cultures have approached guarding the light in the season of short days and long, long nights. This is part of our charter and what sets us apart from traditional public schools. We do not promote any religious beliefs nor any single religious practice. These customs lie deep within our human psyche and predate organized religions. It is our generic reaction to winter and the loss of daylight. Religions recognize the human struggle of light against darkness, and we teach the children various songs and poems coming from different traditions around this theme.
St. Nicholas Day
St. At school, St. Nicholas and Rupert visit the children and bring a small treat. His visit gives the children a chance to reflect on their past year’s behavior and to make resolves for the coming year.
There is a very sweet custom to come out of Scandinavia that Waldorf Schools have adopted as one of their December festivals of light. It is the celebration of Santa Lucia.
A second grade student, dressed in white as Santa Lucia and wearing a golden crown aglow with four candles, leads a procession of classmates (girls dressed in all white and boys wearing blue tunics). Students sing “Santa Lucia” and carry their light throughout the school and share a special treat with every student and staff throughout the school
There is a custom in Waldorf schools to give the younger children in the school (K-3) an opportunity to walk the Winter Spiral . At Juniper Ridge it will be offered outside of school hours and participation is by interest only. It is a unique activity carried out in silence. This silence is required from parents as well as children from the time they arrive until they leave. Gentle music is played in the background by live performers. The Spiral Garden is a Waldorf tradition practiced around the world.
The May Faire is a celebration of May Day, an ancient festival welcoming spring. Fresh flowers and crowns abound and maypole dances are performed by each of the classes.
Throughout the world, in all civilizations, there are celebrations reflecting nature’s rhythms, important transitions,
and significant moments in the life of the culture. We celebrate these to sustain and renew ourselves.
(adopted from Eugene Waldorf School)
Juniper Ridge Community School
615 Community Lane
Grand Junction, CO 81506
Juniper Ridge Community School is a proud member of the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education.