Festivals, Celebrations and Games
At Stone Bridge School, as in other Waldorf schools, festivals provide an opportunity for the entire school community to gather, celebrate, and express gratitude throughout the school year. Just as teachers embrace a rhythm in their daily teaching, the school year experiences its own broader rhythm, marked by the changing of the seasons and many touch points lovingly anticipated by the students, families, teachers and other staff members.
While the festivals and events noted below are those typically observed by the SBS community each year, individual classes may enjoy unique events that align with their grade-level curriculum and unique student communities. Our festivals and traditions encompass stories, songs, plays, and other activities that foster a keen awareness and appreciation of archetypes and traditions from around the world and across the ages.
Each new school year is heralded in by the morning Rose Ceremony in which our very new First Graders step over the Rainbow Bridge, receiving a red rose from their 8th Grade Buddy. These few simple steps represent the beginning of the rich grades 1-8 journey the students are now embarking upon. Families, teachers, staff, other students all gather to bear witness and provide their congratulatory support to each year’s new rising class.
Enchanted Village Faire
While also a fundraising event, our annual Enchanted Village Faire (EVF) is a weekend event that not only SBS families anticipate with great excitement, but the wider community of Napa. Parents and children transform the school campus into a magical land where one can attempt to sneak gems from the Sleeping Giant, go on obstacle adventures to be knighted by the Queen, toss in your line for prizes from the Magic Carp, create your own magical fairy dust, enjoy tasty foods and drink prepared by local chefs, and so much more!
Michaelmas & Harvest Festival
Michaelmas, which began as an equinox and harvest festival in the Middle Ages, is also a feast to honor Michael, an archangel in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. As a public school, SBS is a secular organization, but recognizes that figures and archetypes from many traditions provide much wisdom and inspiration. In this case, Michael represents a force of good over evil, of courage in the face of daunting obstacles. The celebration of Michaelmas teaches the importance of overcoming fear and strengthening one’s resolve.
Michaelmas falls near the autumn equinox, when the weather is rapidly changing, the days are noticeably shorter, and we feel a natural instinct to prepare for the colder months ahead. It marks the end of the harvest and the season when we feel the impulse to turn inward after the long, warm days of summer, and gather up strength and fortitude to face the blustery days and long nights of the winter ahead.
While individual classes may celebrate Michaelmas, its significance is often integrated into the school’s Harvest Festival in October. Joining together in song, a rousing play, and a shared feast make this autumn festival a joyous occasion.
Dia de los Muertos
Each year, Nov. 1 marks the beginning of Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, a day of remembrance for those who have died. From pre-Columbian time, Día de los Muertos has been celebrated in Mexico and some other Latin American countries. Though the particular customs and scale of the Day of the Dead celebrations continue to evolve, the heart of the holiday has remained the same over thousands of years. It is a beautiful occasion for remembering and celebrating those who have passed on from this world, while at the same time, portraying death in a more positive light - as a natural part of the human experience.
At SBS, our Spanish program brings this festive and heartfelt holiday to students through stories, songs, and activities. Whether creating their own calaveras de azuca (sugar skulls), colorful paper garlands (papel picado), altars or ofrendas in remembrance of someone who has died, or enjoying fresh pan de muerto from a local bakery, our students enjoy the opportunity to connect with these rich traditions in community with others throughout Napa Valley and beyond.
As winter begins to take hold and the nights stretch longer, we grow increasingly aware of the changes in light. The sun arcs lower across the daytime sky, the stars appear brighter on clear, cold nights, and we find comfort in the warm glow of lamps and candles in our homes.
While we are very aware of these ‘outward’ lights, the Lantern Walk, enjoyed by our younger students each year, symbolically recognizes that each of us holds an ‘inner’ light within, and that by joining together, we can collectively ‘light the way’ to meet any struggles or challenges in our path. Carrying bright lanterns they have created in class, children and their families gather for song and a story, followed by a quiet nighttime walk. The string of lights moving peacefully down a pathway is a beautiful sight. Whether the darkness is literal or symbolic, we may find joy in knowing that our own bright lights, both outward and inner, can shine forth and give comfort.
The winter spiral is a celebration of light. Each year as the Winter Solstice approaches, we hold the quiet festival of the Winter Spiral. The Spiral is ancient and symbolizes the inward-turning we tend to experience as the night grows longer and cold drives us indoors. It is a festival of reflection on the past year and preparation for the next.
Traditionally, the Spiral is held inside in darkness, with the room illuminated only by a flickering candlelight in the center of the Spiral. In the darkness, the children find within themselves the courage, curiosity, or maybe a sense of duty to venture to the center of the Spiral to the candle which awaits them. Their lit candles represent the light their own being brings to our darkening season, offering hope and a sense of oneness in community.
Throughout the school year, our students sing, play recorder, recite poetry, and perform class plays. Some juggling and dancing may be tucked in, as well! The Winter Festival presents a mid-year opportunity for the students to share some of these rich performance pieces with each other and their families. These offerings across the grades also provide a snapshot of the progression of skill and ‘performance poise’ that students develop over the years!
Games Events, Grades 5-8
Students in grades 5-8 join with students from other Waldorf schools each spring and participate in grade-specific Games. These day-long events provide an opportunity for students to forge friendships with each other and demonstrate their skill and grace with a wide range of activities they have prepared for all year. Depending on the particular Games event, these activities may include archery, Greek wrestling, javelin, track and field events, orienteering, canoeing and more. The four events are:
- Grade 5: Greek Pentathlon (aka Greek Games)
- Grade 6: Medieval Games
- Grade 7: Explorers Tournament
- Grade 8: Track and Field
Winter is over and here in the Valley the hills are flushing green, vines are leafing out, and emerging buds offer the promise of flowers, fruits and vegetables to come. The merry month of May truly is a time for song, dance, and celebration! The Spring Festival brings the entire SBS community together as each class brings its own special dance or musical offering. Perhaps a square dance from 4th graders studying California history, or a complex maypole weave by the soon-to-graduate 8th graders, or even the skilled musical accompaniment by 6th graders on recorders, this festival is a joyful celebration of springtime and being in community with each other.
This sweet event marks the rising of our older Kindergartners into First Grade. Our beloved Kindergarten teachers share a special story with these students, one that represents the departure from the unique world of Kindergarten and the passage into a larger world, that of the grades. Crossing over the Rainbow Bridge, the children meet their First Grade teacher and begin to forge a relationship that will strengthen in the fall when they begin their new journey.
Stone Bridge School celebrates two ‘promotions’ each year - the Kindergartners rising to First Grade (Lavender Ceremony) and our 8th graders moving onto high school. The Sunflower Ceremony, held on the last day of school, is much like the Rose Ceremony. In this case, the 8th graders cross over the Rainbow Bridge and receive a sunflower from their 1st Grade buddies. Celebrated with the entire SBS community present, this lovely ceremony honors our oldest students and their teachers - all that they have contributed to the community, the remarkable ways in which they have grown, and the exciting path ahead of them. The Graduation Ceremony itself, at which students and teachers have an opportunity to speak and diplomas are presented, generally occurs in the evening on the last day of school.