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Bringing World Celebrations to the Grades

Bringing World Celebrations to the Grades
Kara Steere

Part of the richness of a Waldorf education comes from teachers' willingness to look beyond the expected and find ways to bring learning to their students. Parallel to the classroom are Waldorf's investment in festivals and celebrations, bringing attention to the rhythm of a year. These two concepts meet with the celebration of holidays not traditionally marked in the United States.

For example, students on our Pine Hill campus have experienced several special days significant to cultures outside the United States:

  • Diwali: The Hindu festival of lights. This celebration often meets the grade 5 curriculum of ancient cultures well.
  • The Day of the Dead (el Día de los Muertos): This annual Mexican holiday offers the opportunity to welcome back the soul of deceased relatives for a brief reunion filled with food, drink, and celebration. Students are encouraged to listen with their hearts and to classmates sharing stories of their loved ones.
  • Santa Lucia: A Scandinavian tradition stemming from the story of a rich nobleman's young wife who brings generosity to others, even assisting the starving people of another kingdom — an act that turned an enemy kingdom into a friend. The story lives on as grade 2 students offer rolls to all other classes at the beginning of the winter holiday season.
  • Lunar New Year: Also called the Spring Festival, is the oldest traditional festival in China. The celebration of the Lunar New Year lasts 15 days, and this year marks the year of the dragon.

Recognizing and celebrating the stories and traditions of other cultures allows us to gain a deeper understanding of the humanity of all, helping to build curiosity and empathy toward the world as a whole.

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