dragon candle

As you know, our family celebrates some of the lesser-known/less popular festivals of the year.I have been drawn to Michaelmas (Sept. 29) since I first read about it some of my favorite British literature. Autumn is such a time of new beginnings, and Michaelmas is a way of marking that. But in some ways, it feels so very distant from our present-day lives.

making dragon bread

There are all sorts of little bits that make up the tradition of Michaelmas. It's named for the archangel Michael, and there is also an association with St. George, the patron saint of England (and famous dragon-slayer). But the essence of the festival is the harvest. We stand on the threshold from summer to autumn, we rejoice in the bounty of the harvest. We strengthen and fortify ourselves for the journey to winter.

dragon bread

But celebrating this with very young children can feel a bit abstract. So, we follow the traditions set by those before us. We bake a loaf of dragon bread. We make dragon soup. We have a new candle to burn at dinner time from here until it burns out (hopefully right around advent), giving us light as we begin to enter the darker days of autumn and winter. We enjoy the season's last blackberries. And we play a lot of knight, dragon, and princess games.

dragon soup

blackberries on cake

Like most of the festivals of the year -- no matter which you celebrate or what your approach -- with such young children, they are really celebrations of hearth and home, of the cycle of the year, its inhalation and exhalation, and of our ways of relating together as family.

dragon candle

{If you're curious about celebrating some of these traditional holidays with your family, but don't know where to start, I cannot recommend the book Mrs. Sharp's Traditions more highly. Although this festival is popular in the Waldorf community, it's not explicitly a "Waldorf" celebration. For those of us who are concerned by certain aspects of Waldorf education and its foundational philosophy (anthroposophy), Mrs. Sharp's Traditions, which is not a Waldorf book, offers a lot of the background for and traditions surrounding the celebration of these festivals without the anthroposophical influence.}