The Autumn Wind blows open the gate
St. Michael for you we wait
We follow you, show us the way
With joy we greet this Autumn day
Good Morning, Good Morning, Good Morning!
Michaelmas (pronounced ‘mick-EL-muss’) is celebrated at Waldorf schools around the world during the month of September. We feel the temperature dip, we see the leaves change color, and we notice more darkness during our waking hours.
Before there were grocery stories and Amazon.com, people prepared for the winter by gathering their harvest, storing meat, insulating their homes, and chopping wood. We still prepare today, by putting our gardens to bed and pulling out our warm sweaters and mittens. We gather our strength to endure the darkness of winter.
So, with the challenge of winter in mind, we tell the story of St. George and the dragon. In the story, the dragon represents the dark side of human nature. The dragon is wreaking havoc on a kingdom and St. Michael, with his sword of light and a full heart, is sent to slay it. After much hardship, he is victorious.
At Swallowtail, our annual end-of-September tradition is for Grades 1-8 to perform the Michaelmas play. It’s a loose version of the story, written by the 8th grade class, that often changes who actually slays the dragon (often, it’s the princess or a female warrior who fights alongside St. George). Each grade plays a role in the play: for example, the third grade is the farmers who are being terrorized by the dragon and the sixth grade plays the dragon.
Following the annual slaying of the dragon by St. George (or one of his pals), we enjoy fresh baked “dragon bread” to celebrate the defeat of evil/darkness.
In addition to the performance, our Grades perform a challenging task that requires them to work together as a group. It’s a task that tests their endurance, strength, and courage - much like the task of slaying a dragon.