||| Michaelmas is a festival celebrated by Waldorf schools throughout the world, but 2022 is the first year that Berkeley Rose held a Michaelmas festival and it was a great success! The event is about courage and inner strength—qualities that our growing children need now more than ever.
This courage and inner strength is symbolized by fighting a dragon. Micha-el—מייקל—is the Hebrew name for a spiritual being who is recognized in all the Abrahamic religions. Known as Mīkāʾīl—مايكل—in Islam and as Saint Michael in Catholicism, the name means “One who is like God” and has been honored for engaging in a long and courageous struggle against adversarial forces that sought to corrupt humanity. Often pictured with a sword, historically Micha-el was also pictured holding a set of scales, which was used to weigh the souls of the departed. Some believe Micha-el is the same being as the god in Ancient Egypt who weighed the heart of the departed against a feather. Others assert that the archangels of some traditions correspond to the bodhisattvas of others.
In our celebration, each class took on a different role in acting out a version of the Micha-el story for the Kindergartens and the First Grade. Second Graders got to be the heroes, playing Michael who with their swords defeated the Dragon, which was played by Seventh Grade in an amazing costume made by Anaolga Macnaughton, from our Administrative team. Third Graders were farmers distraught about the crops that the Dragon had ruined. The Fourth Graders were smiths who forged the armor that would be needed to fight the Dragon. The Eighth Graders were flag-bearers who proclaimed Micha-el’s victory. Praises for Micha-el’s victory were sung in many songs!
With these tunes still swirling in our heads, we made our way to Willard Park just before lunch. Our Games and Sports teacher Michael(!) Simpson was waiting for the students with thoughtfully-designed challenges inspired by the story. Some games involved individual efforts and others were group collaborations. Each grade rotated through the challenge stations, escaping the jaws of the dragon (jump-rope), leaping over a mama-dragon and her babies, relaying dragon-eggs (gourds) on spoons, and more. The fun ended with an all-school game of dragon-tag.
We’re looking forward to celebrating the courage and inner strength of our children for many years into the future.
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