Sunday, December 4, 2011

Festivals of the Waldorf Year

St. Nicholas Day
Santa Lucia
Shepherds Play
May Day
St. John's Day

Friday, November 18, 2011


The feast of St. Martin. St. Martin of Tours is an enigma to me. Personally I find little in his Vita that is compelling. But he had a huge following, and is really one of the most beloved of the late Roman western saints. It surprised me when I discovered that his feast was celebrated in our school. Last year in first grade, my son made a Laterna. The rest of the family made some to go with it and we went on a Lantern walk. Not that everything went smoothly. We attempted to go to a lantern walk at a friends Church, but we missed connections with them. We salvaged the evening walking around our town green. This year we started earlier and made gorgeous laterna, but our walk was beset by similar problems. Martinmas came and went as we weathered a huge windstorm. And this evening, when the wind finally died down, we beat the bounds of our property, lanterns in hand.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fall Equinox / Harvest Home

The Fall Equinox has come and gone. The sun has passed the midpoint in its waning, and soon the days will be short and cold. Salmon has been in the freezer for a month. And it is time to make our final harvests as it will be frosting any day. Two weeks ago we slaughtered some sheep, and yesterday, three pigs. We have harvested our garden, and found a meager potato crop, a decent carrot crop, and a bounty of peas. It is time to prepare for fall and winter festivals, and the long meditation of the cold months.

The traditional  British calendar  is rather silent on the subject of the equinoxes, but there are other observances around this time. St. Michael's Day, or Michaelmas is but a week away, a feast that deserves a post of its own. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, and anniversary of the creation of the world occurs near the Equinox, begins this year at sundown on Sep. 28th. Orthodox Christianity follows a similar Anno Mundi approach and commemorates the anniversary of the creation of the world as Sept. 1, which also marks the beginning of the liturgical calendar. Alaska, being somewhat special in American Orthodoxy follows the old (Julian) calendar, so these are commemorated on Sept. 14.

A moveable feast, Harvest Home, is also traditional this time of year. Harvest Home was generally celebrated after the final cereal harvest of the year, which until mechanized farming changed things,  occured toward the end of August. It has been suggested that this would have been the boundary for the old pagan Saxon 'Halig Monath' (Holy Month/September) that was described by Bede. It was generally celebrated with the bringing in of the last sheaf of wheat, the making of corn dollies, and  a dinner for farm laborers. Wiccans and some other neo-Pagans combine the Fall Equinox and Harvest Home into the fixed date celebration of Mabon.

At the fall equinox we generally make a raked leaf labyrinth. We follow it and maintain it until Michaelmas, and use it for our Michaelmas observances.

As we do not have a cereal crop, we celebrate harvest home with a dinner when we bring in the final produce of our garden. This year our Harvest Home was this evening. No corn dollies this year, but we had a wonderful dinner of pork ribs, potatoes, peas and carrots from our garden, and to top it off a wonderful carmel apple crisp for desert. A source of pride, the only ingredients that we did not grow or harvest ourselves were flour, sugar, and salt.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Our May Day

We had a good May Day. While it should have been a communal celebration we had some family observances and a day of work with some May Games.

Snow is finally gone, and the yard is dry enough to work. When raked, the ground promises green, but the trees still have not displayed the leaf mist of early summer. It is time to force children into work and to bring in the May Games to make it fun.

Speeding the Plow, and the May Games were communal May activities that celebrated feats of agricultural work such as plowing contests among young men. Our May games revolved around contest of making the biggest leaf piles and running baskets of leaves to the chicken coop.

We made a maypole, and the four of us danced and wove and left it there.

After that, a goose dinner from last year's harvest. Laura made a truly sumptuous May Day feast of roast goose, corn, and stuffed mushrooms.

lastly we jumped the fire, split the fire into two pieces, and drove the livestock (in our case a dog and some chickens) between them.

In all a glorious and exhausting start to summer.

But that's not all, for the May games continue at the end of the week as we have plow day for the local antique tractor association (to feed my inner steampunk), and our school's May Fair to attend on Saturday. More on that when we get there.

May Day | Beltaine | First Day of Summer

Ah the cross quarter days. I think I like them more than the quarters. Heresy I know, but it's true. Quarter days are mostly astronomical events in my book. But the cross quarter days are the true boundary periods. The greater festivals, the times of magic, the swings of light and dark have more than tipped, they are now obvious.

In the Western church it is the feasts of St. James the Just, St. Philip.

In the Eastern Church no less than the Prophet Jeremiah is commemorated.

In secular terms those of a left leaning persuasion might know of it as International Workers' Day. Originally a commemoration of the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago. It became a special day for workers, labor unions, socialists, and communists around the world. And since 1955 the Roman Church has dedicated it as the feast of St. Joseph the Worker (highlighting the status of our Lord's earthly father as patron of workers, craftsmen, immigrants and people fighting communism.)

It is, by the old reckoning, the first day of summer. Although leaves are not yet evident on the trees here, I prefer it that way.

And of course it is Beltane. The opposite of Samhain, it is a time of a thinned veil between the worlds, when good spirits are more likely to be about. A time for purification and preparation for the long good work of summer.

And finally in Germanic countries, May Day, time for the May Pole and May games. The May pole with it's panGermanic use is one of the few truly pre-Christian holdouts that I will admit without a fight.

A time chock full of meaning from all over.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


January 6, Epiphany, the coming of the Wisemen, the baptism of Christ, Twelfth Night, the completion of the Christmas cycle, and my Anniversary.

And yet, beyond marking it, and the anniversary gift, I do nothing for it. This must change.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Boar's Head Haunts a Sutton Kitchen

The boar's head in hand bear I,
Bedeck'd with bays and rosemary.
And I pray you, my masters, merry be
Quot estis in convivio

Caput apri defero
Reddens laudes Domino

The boar's head, as I understand,
Is the rarest dish in all this land,
Which thus bedeck'd with a gay garland
Let us servire cantico.


Our steward hath provided this
In honour of the King of Bliss;
Which, on this day to be served is
In Reginensi atrio.

A carol I love, but a tradition I  never expected to engage in. The Boars head Carol is sung as the cooked pig head is brought forth and presented to the Christmas revelers.

I got a taste of it this evening. Literally. Jamie, you rock.

And for the record, this probably could not be done better.

New Years

The question of the new year is an interesting one. January 1 is an arbitrary date. And a culture needn't have a single new year. Actually traditional western Christianity has three New Years. The Western liturgical year starts with Advent. It recognises Jan. 1 as the new year via "circumcision style" calculations, and the year is also marked from Easter.

The Eastern Orthodox churches mark the beginning of September as the liturgical New Year. I personally see this as a reflection of Rosshashonah.

We follow the standard western New Year on January 1. Until our boys are older we stay up late-ish, fire off fireworks, and congratulate each other. Low key, but good for us.