What Is Michaelmas And Why Do Waldorf Schools Celebrate It?

Updated: Sep 9, 2020

Waldorf Schools around the world celebrate Michaelmas, which began as a harvest festival in the Middle Ages. This feast honors the archangel Michael, who is a a figure common to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. He is a symbol of good triumphing over evil, courage over cowardice. The celebration of this holiday teaches the importance of facing fears and strengthening resolve.

Michaelmas falls near the autumn equinox, marking the end of the harvest and the summer. Although the weather still tends to be warm in our part of the world, the seasons will soon begin to change, and the days grow ever shorter. This shift marks a time of turning inward, a time of gathering strength to face the growing darkness.

This schoolwide celebration is the first festival of the new school year, and the way we celebrate is with an all-school play. Each class assumes the same role that is passed down from grade to grade, year after year. As with so many traditions in Waldorf schools, this tradition becomes an exciting rite of passage as each grade graduates to from role to role as the years go by.

Student Roles:

  • First Grade: Meteors

  • Second Grade: Gnomes

  • Third Grade: Peasants and Farmers

  • Fourth Grade: Townspeople

  • Fifth Grade: Dragon

  • Sixth Grade: Nobles

  • Seventh Grade: Orchestra

  • Eighth Grade: One student is chosen to be Michael, the rest are orchestral accompaniment

The Michaelmas play depicts a terrifying and destructive dragon that is tamed by the people of a town who look to St. Michael for guidance and courage. This story is that is relatable to all people - we all face difficulties in life, both internal and external, and somehow we must find the courage and strength to prevail. We celebrate Michaelmas in the Waldorf tradition to remind ourselves of this universal truth.

Snapshots from our 2019 Michaelmas Pageant

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