At Pathways Steiner Kindergarten in Rotorua we hold an annual Lantern Festival. A sea of candlelight lights up the dark as young ones and their families come together to celebrate mid-winter on the shortest day. It is a magical evening and one the children and families look forward to each year.
The Lantern Festival starts off with the sharing of soup and bread. The soup is prepared in the lead-up to the event, and some of the children help with preparing vegetables for it. It’s a time of sharing and gathering, appreciating the whole concept of warmth and community.
The children then go into the kindergarten, which is lit up by many candles, where they sit and can appreciate the warmth and peacefulness of the candles’ light. They enjoy a story together and then lanterns (which the children have made out of their watercolour paintings) are lit and handed out – part of a learning process, and making it special and memorable. With our festivals the build-up is as important as the event, and the children take part in it. A sense of community and anticipation is created for the children.
Once the children have their lanterns, they go for a walk around the kindergarten’s garden singing a song they have practiced, with their families following. They we all go for a walk around the block with our lanterns, and it has become tradition for a bagpiper to lead the parade. The effect is gorgeous.
One of the overarching words of the festival is ‘reverence’, and the festival is about having reverence for things such as the warmth of light. Usually about 60 people take part in the event.
Celebrating festivals (often seasonal) as part of the Rudolf Steiner philosophy is based around the repetition, tradition and structure created by these events. It is also a time where parents can reflect on memories from their childhood and imagine how their own children must be feeling now.
This is adapted from an article that appeared in the Daily Post on 28th June 2019.