What a delightful evening that was had by all on Thursday, November 9th. We had a wonderful turnout in support of the children and the work we are doing in the kindergarten. I really appreciate the strength in our parent body and the warmth that we receive from the community. The children I walked with included families from all five kindergartens at both Golden Valley Schools. The children were reverent and awed by the experience of walking in the great wide world under the stars with their handmade lanterns and coming across Mother Earth in the trees.
A parent asked me about the pedagogy behind the Lantern Walk. This pedagogy would not be appropriate to share with the kindergarten child, but it may help adults deepen their understanding of the origins and archetypes within our kindergarten festival life.
Traditionally, within independent Waldorf schools, the lantern walk is brought in the second grade and corresponds to the tale of St Martin, as the children receive curriculum surrounding Zack Lanternsstories of the saints during the second grade. According to the most famous story of the saint, Martin was a Roman soldier who was traveling one cold winter night when he saw a beggar in the streets. Even though Martin felt frozen to his toes, he was compelled to cut his cloak in two and give one of the halves to the beggar. In honoring St. Martin, St Martin's Day is celebrated on November 11 in many countries with varying custom and ceremony, many of which include feasting and honoring the darkening of the season after the harvest by the carrying lanterns of light in a community procession.
Our version of the Golden Valley Kindergarten Lantern Walk affirms symbolically that light can continue to shine even as the light and warmth of the sun are waning. Carrying a light into the darkness in the company of others, accompanied by song – as we do during the Lantern Walk - can be reassuring. In place of honoring the non-secular St Martin's work with the poor, we honor Mother Earth and the archetype of the planting seed which brings renewal in the spring. The children receive inner pictures from the story we tell in the kindergarten of Spindlewood - the tale of a child who visits Mother Earth as the seed babies are falling asleep for the winter. The child asks to join the seed babies, fairies and gnomes sleeping around Mother Earth's skirts but Mother Earth tells the child that she has something important to do above ground with her own mother and father, and gives her a bulb to plant and tend to until spring. We don't point out this connection to the Lantern Walk directly to the children, but let it rest and come alive in its own time for each child (if ever). Pointing out the connection would be an example of over-intellectualizing in an adult way, the young child's capacity for imaginative picturing. Creating a healthy culture together for our children is such a gift to their future. Thank you all for joining us in the Kindergarten.