At Syringa Mountain School, we embrace the changing rhythms of the calendar year through a variety of festivals and activities. We acknowledge the seasonal changes taking place in the natural world and incorporate these changes into the class curriculum. Our festivals are held throughout the year to mark the passage of seasons and holidays, developmental milestones, and other significant moments. These gatherings offer an opportunity to celebrate and strengthen our community.
In autumn, Harvest Festival celebrates seasonal bounty with community gathering, dancing, singing, games, and a potluck. Students participate in the Michaelmas Play each year, also known as the festival of strength and courage. It is a time to honor the abundance of harvest and celebrate human will, inner strength, courage and initiative. The day is filled with the strong imagery of a fiery dragon being tamed by the hero, Michael. The children present a play in which they tame the dragon, enjoy games of courage and strength, sing songs, and share a feast of dragon bread and harvest foods.
In late fall, we celebrate the Lantern Walk—also known as Martinmas—when we light candles and gather the inner resources to face the dark and cold months of winter. This festival serves as a reminder of the inner light that we all have to share with others. The authors of the book “All Year Round” write: “The traditional way of celebrating Martinmas is with lantern walks or processions, accompanied by singing. St. Martin recognized the divine spark in the poor man of Amiens, and gave it the protection of his own cloak. When we make a paper lantern, we, too, may feel that we are giving protection to our own little “flame” that was beginning to shine at Michaelmas, so that we may carry it safely through the dark world. It may only be a small and fragile light- but every light brings relief to the darkness.” The children walk along a path carefully carrying their lanterns into the quiet night.
Winter Spiral Walk
During the Spiral Walk, we celebrate the turning point in the year when the days become their shortest and the night its longest and we look for the light which come from within. In the center of the spiral, a single candle is lit. Each child walks the spiral alone to the center of the spiral, where they light their own candle to place along the spiral. When all the children have walked the path, the whole spiral is aglow with lights.
In May, we celebrate May Faire, an ancient festival to welcome spring. As the days get longer, the sun brightens not only the outer world, but our inner selves too. The celebration is abundant with fresh flowers, a Maypole, music, food, and dancing. In some years, we have offered this lovely celebration to the greater community in the form of a lively public festival with crafting, pony rides, community May Pole dance, live music, café, face painting and more. The children sing May Day songs and perform short weaving dances around the May Pole creating beautiful patterns.