“When conscience speaks, no other voice may intrude”
Why does Michael Mount celebrate festivals? In the words of Sharifa Oppenheimer,
Waldorf teacher and author of Heaven on Earth: A handbook for parents of young children:
“In earlier times, children were raised within the agricultural calendar.
… they knew the steps in a process, and learned the lesson to persist until the goal was attained. From planting a seed and persisting through
till harvest … these children had a … sense of sequencing.
In our technological lives which are fractured … and [have] a thousand distractions,
it can be difficult for children to have a sense of the long rhythms of life,
and the step-by-step sequences these rhythms involve.
To celebrate seasonal Festivals gives our children an opportunity to live these long rhythms, the rhythms of the earth and sun. These children will begin to know the long, slow sequences of their own human lives.”
There is another, deeper reason. Clusters of significant cultural, folk and religious dates on calendars from every corner of the world indicate a universal significance to these dates – even though the meanings assigned to them differ widely. Interestingly, there is an observable relationship between these festival dates and solar alignments, such as the solstices* and equinoxes**.
* A solstice is an astronomical event that occurs twice each year, in June and December. The day of the solstice is either the longest day of the year (summer solstice) or the shortest day of the year (winter solstice) for any place outside of the tropics. Alternative terms are June solstice and December solstice, referring to the months of year in which they take place. The word solstice is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still)
** An equinox is an astronomical event that occurs twice each year, in March and September, when the tilt of the earth’s axis in inclined neither away from nor towards the sun, with the sun’s centre in the same plane as the equator on earth. On an equinox, day and night are of approximately equal duration all over the planet. The name “equinox” is derived from the Latin ‘aequus’ (equal) and ‘nox’ (night), because around the equinox, the night and day have approximately equal length.
There are eight major dates celebrated in the world for one reason or another, and they all fall roughly on solstice or equinox days or on the midpoints between them. These dates mark the beginnings and middles of the four seasons of the yearly cycle. Rudolf Steiner attached particular significance to the celebration of these festivals, because the cycles of nature represent the many inner and outer cycles of human life, birth and death being the most obvious.
“Celebrating festivals can bring us consciously to what we all experience instinctively in our daily lives, the changing cycles of the seasons and of life itself. Through various festivals and rituals we acknowledge and celebrate our connection to …
each other and the world.”
– Marilyn Pelrine
Because the festivals originated in the northern hemisphere, those in the southern hemisphere have had to do a bit of maneuvering in order
to make the festivals coincide with their own seasons.