We have special seasonal events during and outside of normal program hours every month or so. Our annual field trip to River Turn Farm is one of our favorite traditions. We experience the bounty of the season with all the parents and children picking apples and pumpkins, pulling turnips and beets. Each event brings its own special meaning and chance to celebrate with art, song and storytelling: Michaelmas, Halloween, Lantern Walk, Thanksgiving, Advent, Candlemas when we dip Beeswax candles, Valentines Day, an Easter egg hunt, Mothers Day, puppet shows and the Celebration of the Doves at the end of the year. Families are invited to all of our events regardless of your scheduled days of school.
We celebrate birthdays with simple rituals that allow the children to rejoice and honor the birthday child. Practiced year after year, these joyful traditions bring reverence for the passage of life, giving children an opportunity to link with the past and contemplate the future.
When a birthday morning arrives, each child brings a gift from nature—a stone, shell, or flower perhaps that is placed into a special birthday basket, which is then looked upon with much anticipation by all the children. At snack time the birthday child may wear the golden robe and a freshly twined flower crown while a bouquet of flowers waits at their place setting. At the end of snack, they will be hoisted up in their seat for a general “Hip Hip Hooray!”
Later when the children are playing outside, the birthday parents will join us in the classroom. At the right time, the children are led back with joined hands to sit in a ring. The parents sit on one side of a small table that is decorated with silks, special beeswax candles and some other surprises for the ceremony ahead. The birthday child either sits nestled with their family or with two of their friends who will represent the Sun and the Moon and lead them down the Rainbow Bridge when that moment arrives in the story. This is the moment when they will then go to sit with their parents. When all is quiet a story begins….
Following the story, which shares milestones and golden memories of the birthday child’s birth and biography, the birthday child hands out a special snack he or she prepared at home (usually a delicious fruit like strawberries, oranges, or grapes.) The nature gifts brought that morning are handed out with each child offering his individual gift to the birthday child. It is a simple but profoundly joyful tradition.