Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we are entering the darkest days of the year. The sun is down by dinner time, and even at noon the shadows are long and slanting. Holiday preparations are in full swing, and our minds swirl with plans for gifts, meals, treats, crafts, decorations, travel, cleaning. When we look out into the natural world, we see the opposite of this constant, harried motion. The earth is growing quiet. The plants and animals are storing away food for the cold months or preparing to sink into dormancy. When the snow comes, the quiet will be even deeper.
It is no accident that so many festivals are planned for these dark days. Celebrations of light, community, sharing — these remind us to carry the gifts of summer with us into the quiet of winter. At the time of the longest night, we find joyful celebrations of returning light. The Jewish celebration of Hannukah, the remembrance of the rededication of the Temple and of the miracle of lamps whose oil should have lasted one day and lasted for eight, falls at this time of year. The Hindu festival of lights, Divali, has just passed. Many earth-based traditions honor the winter Solstice with special joy, lighting fires and candles and exchanging gifts.
The word “Advent” means “coming” or “arrival.” It is used in the Christian tradition to refer to the four Sundays before Christmas, when people prepare for the birth of the Christ child. However, this seasonal observance has been kept by people around the world from all paths and beliefs; as autumn gives way to winter, we prepare for the return of the sun, the lengthening of days, and for the insights that we can gain from reflection on the year that has been and on what may be to come.
In Waldorf schools, for many years, children of all backgrounds have participated in the month-long observance of the rebirth of the light through songs, stories, craft activities, and the Winter Spiral festival. It is a way to give them an experience of quiet beauty in a season of busyness. Sara Logan
Beautiful photo from @_kinderschar_