Autumn Harvest Festival Ideas from Ned’s school celebration
Just over a week ago, Ned and his classmates invited us (the families) to come and share in a little seasonal festival fun! I wrote yesterday about the gorgeous autumn fall leaf bunting made by the children that was hanging in among the branches of the trees. But there was so much more…
The festival began with Ned’s teacher inviting the children and the families inside the classroom. Quietly, we sat in a semi circle and waited for the magic to begin. His teacher told a story of a great land where dragons ruled the earth, and how each one of us has the power to tame our inner dragon. BUT the thing was, she told this story using flour, and sourdough starter, and oil, and water, and sultanas… moving the flour into great mountains of dough and mixing and kneading and turning the dough until it was firm enough to shape into a harvest loaf. The story, and the actions that accompanied the story, literally brought tears to my eyes (and to the eyes of many other people in the room, I must say.) I was ‘touched’ by the sentiment, and by the wisdom the story shared. I have to say, it’s been a LONG time since I was touched so deeply in a ritual or celebration- I feel so lucky to be involved in work that does encourage ritual and celebration as a way to bring community together- but when ritual and celebration is a normal part of life, it takes something extra special for alchemy to fire up an unexpected spark of reaction. I’m ever grateful for those sparks! They are life-giving and soul nourishing.
We parents and friends then ventured down the path and out the gate and waited for the groups to appear, and like autumn leaves floating, they appeared in flowing silk gowns in all the fall colours, a feast for the eyes in red, orange, yellow and gold. Once they formed a circle, the teachers led the children in a number of circle songs and rhymes, with actions and movement. (I wish I could remember some of them! There were so many new sweet songs I’d never encountered that I would have loved to have shared with you. Perhaps I’ll see if Ned can help!) At the end of the circle time, the children were asked to dance with their families.
As Chris was there too and at that moment holding Jack, I went to Ned. Only for him to tell me he wanted to dance with Daddy instead. Rejected! Oh the pain. So I took Jack and Chris danced with Ned. Later, there was a second opportunity to dance with the children, so Chris and I swapped and I tried again…only to be rejected for a second time! It seemed that Daddy was the flavour of the day**.
After the dancing, it was time for the autumn feast and community gathering. To share conversations and catch up with friends, to delight in home-cooked delicacies, to spend time with the children in the warm sun.
And to finish the day, every family was invited to make their own Autumn Wreath using foliage, seedpods, nuts, dried branches, feathers, dried fruit slices, beads, buttons, flowers, pieces of sentimental nostalgia from home, trinkets… whatever suited your family’s interpretation of autumn.
Ned thread a long string of wooden beads while I worked some branches and vines into a large circular shape. We added slices of dried fruit (made by me in the oven the night before… but needing more time in the low-temp oven to be truly truly dried out properly!) and cassia flowers for a bit of colour. We brought this home and put it on our front door.
Every child left with a little Autumn gift, a painted box filled with the fruits of autumn- a tussy mussy of herbs and flowers from the kindy garden, a felted seed baby made during the term by Ned, that laid in his own little seedpod bed, a few seasonal treasures for the autumn table at home (feathers, local seedpods) and of course, a big chunk of warm harvest bread filled with sweet sultanas.
Did I tell you how much I love a festival celebration? I do, and this one reminded me why I can’t wait to be a part of organising seasonal festival celebrations again soon when our Family Day Care service begins.
Do you celebrate Autumn? What do you do? Share your ideas here!
**I couldn’t help but feel a bit upset by Ned’s rejection and I felt the tears welling up when it happened but I pushed them down and tried not to dwell in self pity during an otherwise gorgeous morning. Later, in the car, I said to Ned that next time, it would be really nice if he could share the dances out between mama and dad, as Mama had been a bit sad to miss out. In his innocence he said, ‘But Mama, Daddy works a lot more than you, so he needs more FUN!‘. I could have throttled him! Obviously all the work I do (including 90% of the parenting, plus work outside the home and working from home, plus all the bill paying/home organisation/cleaning etc) is not work at all! Had to laugh at his interpretation of life and events but as a single parent, I’m none too thrilled with his belief system! Time to change that I think!