El Vuelo de los Ancestros

Under the guidance of Spanish teacher Has Pineda, the traditional Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos has become a part of our school’s annual celebrations. Last year, as part of the school’s festivities, our 8th grade class presented a wonderful play in Spanish to the student body, 3rd graders baked the traditional sweet bread pan de muerto, and we all brought mementos and photos to assemble a traditional Día de Muertos altar to remember departed loved ones.

This year, students worked with Maestra Pineda to create a beautiful altar in the Peace Garden (click here for photos). Below, Maestra Has Pineda describes the origins and meaning behind Día de Muertos celebrations.

El vuelo de los Ancestros
Return to the ancient path,
the roadmap of greatness,
the elders call must be obeyed,
thoughts of the ancestors is enough,
everything is hidden within it.
It is the beginning of healing
for all of us and our land.
Put your ears on the ground to listen
to what they have to say.
Tilt your head and look up for
the sky bears witness to this truth.
The air still sings their music,
even the waters also whispers their songs
for they drank from the same well as you.
Emeka Mokeme, The Elders Call
by Morgan Vierheller

Death has been in all cultures and throughout history, an event that invites reflection, rituals, ceremonies, the search for answers, which causes fear, admiration and uncertainty. The festival of the Day of the Dead in Mexico is a tradition that began long before the arrival of the Spanish. About 3,000 years ago, the original Aztecs left a legacy that shows, in the eyes of the world, a culture of great intangible wealth: the spiritual. Through these practices and beliefs they speak to us of respect and love for connections even after physical death.

Pre-Hispanic cultures shared the belief that there is an immortal and soulful entity that gives consciousness to the human being and that after death continues its path in the world of the dead, where it continues to need utensils, tools and food. 

Every year, as the fall season arrives Mexicans and many other people from around the globe turn their hearts and minds  to loved ones that have crossed the threshold and once more  enlighten the bridge between the dead and the living by celebrating “dia de los muertos”. The most representative element of the Day of the Dead festival are the altars with their offerings, a representation of the vision of death, full of allegories and meanings.

This year at Marin Waldorf school we will be honoring with respect, wonder and inclusivity this festival of remembrance. Each class will be offering a gift to the “ofrenda”. First graders cut out pieces of paper to make banners or “papel picado” that will represent the air element. Fifth grade will be making Cempasúchitl  flowers(marigolds). They are a symbol of the impermanence and fragility of life and have many uses in Day of the Dead celebrations. 7th graders learned about the history and the components of an altar while 8th graders will write biographies of a loved one they will be honoring during day of the dead. 

We set up an altar in the peace garden to allow all students to walk through and in reverence take part of this beautiful celebration. 

The Rose Ceremony, Reimagined

Our year in the grades always begins with an all-school assembly to celebrate the Rose Ceremony. In this beloved tradition, first graders are called one by one to the stage to receive a red rose from their new eighth grade buddy. Together, our school celebrates the first day of our first graders’ journey through the grades, while also saluting our eighth grade class, who are beginning their last year on campus.

It’s hard to imagine a school year starting without the Rose Ceremony. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a Waldorf school year without a robust calendar of community events, festivals, ceremonies, and gatherings… but reimagining is what we’ve been doing all year. Surely there was a way to mark the day without compromising our commitment to safety.

Working with our school nurse, our first and eighth grade teachers redesigned the Rose Ceremony as a safe, physically distanced event, which connected the two classes through socially distant waves and smiles (and without any intermingling of cohorts!). See below as one of our first graders passes under the rainbow bridge between our School Director Megan Neale and Grades Director Dena Malon, to stand beside her teacher, Mr. Baril. (And of course we had to have live musical accompaniment!)

The ceremony concluded with the very special delivery to the first grade of a basket of handmade gnomes from the eighth grade (pictured at top).

May Flowers: MWS Celebrates May Faire

Last Friday, we would have gathered to celebrate our traditional May Faire in the shade of Grandmother Oak. It’s a favorite event, one we all look forward to, and since we couldn’t be together, we asked our families to celebrate the spring at home and to share their pictures of their May Faire celebrations with us.

The beauty, kindness, and creativity of our community is always astounding! Thank you to everyone who shared their celebrations with us.

Flower crowns are a tradition at our May Faire, and many children made their own with garden flowers, paper, or felt, while others gather wildflowers or roses.

Some of our sweet families dropped off spring baskets for their neighbors.

Others made maypoles for dancing or for their toy gnomes, including a very inventive maypole made from an outdoor umbrella!

Others gathered wildflowers on their hikes or gifted garden flowers to their neighbors.

Did you celebrate the May Faire at home? Let’s keep our celebration growing! Please share your pictures with us.

This Week: May Faire 2020

In the open space around our Lucas Valley campus, the hills are blooming with poppies and buttercups. In our school garden, spring flowers are emerging in brilliant colors. No wonder we choose to celebrate spring at the beginning of May each year!

For our May Faire 2020, we planned to welcome our beloved grandparents to campus to celebrate May Faire as our guests of honor, which would have made the day even more memorable.

While we can’t be together on campus, we can still celebrate spring (and honor our grandparents) as a community. Here’s our plan for May Faire 2020, and, as always, the more MWS families who get involved, the more beautiful it will be.

Create!
MWS families, please take this week to create something at home to celebrate spring: make paper flower garlands, use garden flowers to make a traditional May Faire flower crown, link together a daisy chain, or create a vase full of tissue-paper flowers. Make a collection of beeswax buttercups. Or you might collect wildflowers, scatter wildflower seeds outside, or find a flower in nature and draw it in detail. Use the items you have in your house! Love is the most important ingredient!

If you need some inspiration, we have many tips and tutorials for creating homemade flowers in the post It’s Spring! Flower Projects to Celebrate May Faire.

Spread Joy
Now that you’ve made something at home, let’s share our spring celebration with the people around us. Deliver a paper flower, a bunch of wildflowers, or a note of spring cheer to your neighbors. Or leave a beautiful gift on your mailbox for the mail carrier, at grocery stores, or for anyone else in your community.

Share It Here
Send a photo of your flower creation and your acts of kindness. We’ll create a beautiful collage of images and good cheer right here on Grandmother Oak.

… And we’ll use our images to create a small token to share with our beloved grandparents. Please send them to Julie at grandmotheroak@marinwaldorf.org. (If you’d like to dedicate your flower crown or creation to a grandparent, please let me know!)

Come Together
On Sunday morning, wear your flower crowns, bring your paper flower bouquet, or show up in any other flower trappings to celebrate the May Faire at the Community Coffee on Sunday. We’ll have a special lineup of music that day! Stay tuned for details.