Halloween & Dia de los Muertos

Welcome Autumn!  It feels a little strange to be saying that because I have hardly looked up since the summer.  Now that we are in our third week of school in the new space, it feels like things are settling a bit.  The children’s joy in the mornings fills my heart with smiles.  We are beginning to form a new group and new little friendships are starting to emerge.  Sweet and sour exchanges between the children salt and pepper the day with truths.  Each child brings his/her own destiny to the table and our task as teachers and parents is to meet that destiny each and every new day.  It feels big, but no bigger than starting a school, right:)?

Halloween

We are beginning the season of festivals.  The first one being Halloween.  What fun to dress up!  And is there a more fun vegetable than a pumpkin?  I think not.  Halloween brings much excitement for all of us and as a parent of young children, some trials too.  The amount of sugar is a challenge and so too are all the frightening masks, scary costumes, etc.  Sometimes just going to the grocery store is a loaded errand because of the witch above the ice cream.  I have struggled with how to keep the magic of this festival balanced with how we as a culture celebrate.  At our house we have the sugar fairies that come the night of Halloween and in exchange for some candies they leave a  simple gift the next morning.  Below is an excerpt from an article that reminds us of how the young child relates to this festival.

THE SPIRITS OF HALLOWEEN

Eons ago, as they looked upon the mists that wove around their fjords and heaths, ancient Europeans had a particular experience as the days grew shorter. Toward the end of the month that we call October, they perceived the souls of all of those who had died in the past year gathering and preparing to ascend to their heavenly home, making a space for the souls due to be born in the year to come. But before they could assume their place in the ethereal realm, the departed souls had to sweep away all the detritus of the life just past and cast it to the earth. Thus the popular image of witches riding on their broomsticks is a misperception: in reality, the brooms are sweeping away the witches!

At the time when the child is in fourth-grade, a sense of human mortality begins to dawn within her. Children of this age are rightfully and healthily drawn to all of the frightful and gruesome aspects of Halloween, and they look forward with trembling anticipation to visiting a haunted house, watching a horrific form arise out of a swamp, or, if only through a well-told story, being scared out of their senses!

For the younger child, however , the situation is different. The spirits and creatures with whom the younger child communes are not those created by human error, but rather those in whom the innocent and wise powers of Nature reside: gnomes and undines, fairies and elves, the spirits of stones and streams, sun and wind. For young children to be exposed only to the dark and demonic qualities of Halloween is to deny the unspoken conviction that they care in their souls that the world is good.

– Eugene Schwartz, Waldorf Educator

So, here is the plan for our school Halloween celebration.  For those children that come on Mondays, please come to school in regular clothes with their costume in a bag.  Please keep costumes simple, traditional worldly roles (fireman, farmer, etc.), nature spirits, costumes that require the imagination, etc.  In line with our school, please no TV or movie characters.  We also would be happy to provide a cape, crown, silks, hat, etc. if you want to keep it really simple.  We will have a regular morning and after lunch when we go outside, the children will change into costumes for our parade.  If you don’t come on a Monday you are invited to join us at noon for the parade.  We’ll parade in costume for the parents and maybe go down to the Calfire office.  Afterwards we’ll play outside then come inside for a puppet show and end the day with a special treat.  The festivities will begin at 12pm.  Come and celebrate with us!

Dia de los Muertos

I particularly love this celebration because it speaks to that thin veil between the earthly and the spirit that is always around us but is often unrecognized.  This year we will celebrate by decorating an altar (ofrenda).  Each family is invited to bring photos of loved ones that have passed on (please put your name on the back) for our school altar.  The ofrenda will be set up in the first grade room and the children will get the opportunity to contribute to the altar and then on dia de los muertos, Nov. 2, the children will view the altar while listening to live music.  If anyone is interested and available to play for us please talk to one of the teachers.  Thanks!

“Día de los Muertos is a celebration that comes from the blend of the pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican cultures and the Spanish Catholics. The indigenous cultures of Mexico believed that the souls of the departed returned to visit during this time of year. To this day, families gather to remember those who have gone, with stories, singing, dancing, and sharing a feast composed of their remembered loved ones’ favorite foods.  The customs for Día de los Muertos are as diverse as a simple offering of flowers at the tombs of the loved ones to creating beautiful and artistic altars to honor family members who have crossed over.”

What we’re up to…

Our current story thread is “The Pumpkin Child” an Iranian/Persian fairy tale.  Below are a few songs and rhymes we are singing right now.

Song:  “Jack-o-lantern, jack-o-lantern you are such a lovely sight, as you sit there in my window looking out at the night.  You were once a yellow pumpkin growing on a sturdy vine.  Now you are my jack-o-lantern let your little light shine.”

And a don’t forget about Peter…

Rhyme:  “Peter, Peter pumpkin eater had a wife but couldn’t keep her.  He put her in a pumpkin shell and there he kept her very well!”

Cancion:  “La arana pequenita subio, subio, subio.  Vino la lluvia y se la levo.  Salio el sol y todo lo seco.  Y la arana pequnita subio, subio, subio.”  (the itsy bitsy spider)

Thank you for bringing your beautiful children to our school.  Happy Autumn!

Kim