Celebrating festivals throughout the year is central to our kindergarten’s yearly rhythm. They gently lead the children to an awakening of the changing seasons and the world around them. Festivals are part of how we keep kindergarten life vibrant. They invite the children to have a sense of awe, wonder and reverence for the spirit that lives within all humanity, encouraging diversity, community and acceptance. In addition to those mentioned here, we warmly invite parents to contribute to festivals that reflect their culture and are celebrated at home.
A festival of "strong will." Based on the story of Archangel Michael, the champion of goodness, courage and strength overpowering the dragon. At this festival we bring gifts of vegetables, fruit and flowers from our gardens and allotments as gifts for Mother Earth to celebrate the bounty of the earth. Afterwards we share these gifts with some of our neighbours.
Diwali - St Martin's
Late October / early November
The Indian 'festival of lights' speaks to us of victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. It has a much broader message around diversity. The parents, children and staff enjoy lots of fun as we share Indian food and dress up in traditional Indian costume with lots of colour. A magical candle lit puppet show tells a traditional Indian story. We often combine this with a St. Martin’s Lantern walk, a festival celebrated in some northern European countries. We make paper lanterns, light them together and walk through St Werburghs after dark to see our lights shine.
4 Sundays before Christmas
Sometimes referred to as the Advent Spiral or Winter Garden this is a quiet reflective festival. It is a time to ponder what we have learnt from the year and what we hope for in the months to come. Sitting in silence with gentle music playing, each child takes a turn to softly walk around a spiral of moss and evergreen branches and light a candle. Slowly the candles light the path for those to come after. It celebrates the childrens' 'inner light' and how we offer the best of ourselves in service to others.
Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children, speaks of an archetypal figure of heavenly wisdom, the forerunner of Santa Claus, who is an earth-bound companion to elves in the North Pole. Around the world children leave their shoes out in the hope of receiving a small gift from St Nicholas. In kindergarten we will think of how we have been good and leave our slippers out for Saint Nicholas’ visit, usually to find our slippers covered by a cloth, some treasures inside, and glitter making the floor sparkle.
The Shepherd's Play
During advent, the children are visted by a group of players (parents and staff) who arrive unannounced to perform the Shepherd's play. The children watch in awe at these familiar faces telling a story. They bring gentle humour to the story and it can be quite an exciting unexpected event.
last day of Autumn Term
And finally it is Christmas! A time to share good cheer and gather together as a community. It is a magical time, watching the children perform songs and a play, and joinign together singing carols. We share food, the children take turns to light a candle on the Christmas tree, and each receive a gift from their teachers.
3 Kings Day
Traditionally celebrated in Spain as the main gift-giving day of the Christmas period, we make crowns and sing songs about the journey these wise men made to find the Christ Child. The children bake a Kings-Cake in which we put a silver coin and whoever finds the coin will be king for the day.
Candlemas / Imbolc
Also known as Groundhog Day in some parts. The days are beginning to lengthen and we make or decorate candles, lighting some in the garden to wake up the spring bulbs and flowers, telling them spring is coming soon. It is thought that if the day is sunny and bright then winter has not yet left but if it is cloudy and grey then spring is near.
Chinese New Year
The beginning of the Chinese Lunar Calendar, associated with an animal that represents the nature of the year. A time to cast out the old and welcome the new. The children will busy themselves with making Chinese lanterns or dragons, polishing pennies and eating with chopsticks.
Pancake Day / Carnival
40 days before Easter
Celebrated before the start of Lent we make and eat delicious pancakes on the fire in the garden. Children and staffcome to kindergarten in their favourite dressing-up clothes. We might even go for a procession playing music up and down the road.
Usually celebrated on the last day of the spring term we go to a local beauty spot to see whether the Easter hare has left some coloured eggs for us to find. The egg is a symbol of new life reminding us that the Earth is not dead and that with spring new life will flow around us. This is a traditional time for planting seeds and eating hot cross buns.
For mayday we bring out our maypole to dance around in our prettiest clothes, ringing bells and playing music we celebrate the beautiful flowers and the promise of summer.
40 days after Easter
A lovely festival when we consider the world, it’s people and how we create the future. A time when we explore language and invite parents who speak in languages other than English to share songs or a verse with us. We make little doves as symbols of peace, wear white clothes and light candles. Whitsun is a quiet festival where we can appreciate our difference yet more importantly the things we share and have in common.
This is a day of renewal where we climb up a hill and can look at the clouds. We celebrate being closer to the sky with a picnic and songs.
Midsummer - St John's Festival
The days are as long as they can get. We celebrate the blessings of the Sun by honouring the four elements, we light a fire to sing around and to send our wishes to the stars. We play with giant bubbles as they float in the air and we brave ourselves to slide down the hill. This is a festival shared with all the family. We enjoy a picnic, fun games, skipping and races. Everyone dresses in fire colours.
"Full flaming Fire,
By thy light glowing,
Show to us beauty,
Vision and joy."
End of Year Festival
last day of Summer Term
This is a festival to celebrate all who have been in the class for the year, it is a time to watch the children sing their favourite songs and games and to share a feast. It is also a transition time where the 6 year old children will name the baby that they made and perform a puppet show for everyone as their goodbye before they leave for their next school.