Our Michaelmas Festival – Friday 29th September
One after another the classes streamed into the hall and over to the harvest table where brightly smiling pupils from Class 11 received their offerings of flowers, fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts, bread and more…and arranged them beautifully on the table.
Michaelmas, the first major festival of the year, is always a joyful event – not least because we are joined by the Kindergarten and Parent & Toddler Groups so that the whole school was present – and many parents too! All our favourite Michaelmas songs now filled the hall, led by a joyfully welcoming Sandi.
St. George, St. Michael and the Dragon
The highlight of an autumnal programme was Class 3’s lively presentation of ‘St George and the Dragon’; we noted that the dragon was not slain, but tamed and put to work for the good of Mankind. Class 4 sang a round in excellent German describing the farmer’s urgent attempt to save his ‘golden grain’ from the fast approaching rain storm; Classes 4 & 5 Choir’s lovely song ‘Flying High, Flying Free’, reminded us of the impending migration of birds; in Class 6’s recitation of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s ‘Blow, Bugle, Blow’ we could experience the gradual dying of the year, and their Russian song ‘Grey Goose’ was beautiful – all these were especially chosen for this heart-warming community gathering.
Courage through the Cold
Elaine shared some thoughts on the eternal themes, truths and wake-up calls of Michaelmas, – and why we celebrate this festival without fail every year, came into focus: stories of Michael and the Dragon are as ancient as they are universal, appearing in every culture around the world, and speaking directly of human experience: the shortening days and lengthening nights with the growing cold and darkness; the wild autumn storms threatening the crops in the fields, thereby the very livelihood of whole communities (there were no supermarkets then!). Facing these requires courage! St George’s deed in taming the dragon is a more modern rendering of the story but no less relevant today: there seems to be no end to one nation trying to dominate another, or of Man’s cruelty to his fellow. We can see these happening whichever way we turn – just as we can recognise the courage and compassion of groups and individuals all around us.
A moving song was sung by two visiting Upper School students, Thomas and Luca: ‘How to save a life’. Wonderful!
As I was leaving, my eye was caught by flying vegetable parings which I traced to Class 7 midway through their enthusiastic preparations for the harvest soup – to be shared by all – before they dashed gleefully off for their next Michaelmas assignment.
And the Dragon Game...
Courage Games and Dragon Games in Sticklebirch Wood followed – and money was raised from Class 7’s cake stall for ‘Emmaus’, a charity for the homeless. Warmest thanks to everyone who prepared and shared in this joyful festival.