On September 29th of each year, Waldorf schools around the world come together in celebration of the first major festival of the year – Michaelmas. Michaelmas is a traditional Waldorf festival that is celebrated as the summer warmth and light dwindle. As we begin to face the challenges of the darker season ahead, Michaelmas reminds us to find our own strength and courage to overcome fears in our lives. Below, long-time Waldorf educator Nancy Blanning shares her reflections on the meaning of Michaelmas:

We live in a fear-filled world. This has always been true for humanity. Whether it has
been threat from wild beasts, natural disasters, famine and starvation, war, plague and illness,
or material poverty, humanity has always had big worries. In our own time, we experience
strongly that fear and anxiety fill the air we breathe every day as well. Since the pandemic
especially, we do not know from where or when a threat may come. This can fill us with vague,
consistent anxiety. We want to provide our children with the capacities and inner courage to
face whatever unknowns will face them in their futures. How can we do that?

The fall festival of Michaelmas is about confronting fear with courage. Michael fights the
monster. This happens year after year. The beast is never fully quashed. The
Michael/Sophia/gallant souls—the “he,” “she,” or “they”—encounter it again and again, never
backing away or giving up. Nothing in the stories says that they are fearless. They confront fear
by looking it squarely in the face and forging ahead, refusing to become paralyzed by it.

Children are guided not only by what the adults around them say and do, but also by how
they think and feel. If we do not want our children to be narrowed by fear, we must break out
of our own fetters. Michaelmas stories of courage are usually directed to children, yet these
stories speak to adults as well. Where does fear, which will be subtly absorbed by the children,
live in me? This season calls to all of us to acknowledge our anxieties about the future yet walk
forward with our children to affirm the goodness of life through the courage that this festival

Typically, we celebrate Michaelmas with either a field day of games requiring us all to bring our strength and courage, or with a school-wide pageant to embrace the underlying meaning of Michaelmas. 2023 is a pageant year, so our students and staff will come together to act out a story of light overcoming darkness and virtue triumphing over vice. May we all move forward together in this season ahead sharing our light, goodness, and courage!