By Lydia Kenyon
Rainbow Spring is part of a year round initiative to celebrate and explore the season’s change in Denmark, Western Australia.
Natural rhythms of the day and the year are an important aspect of early years learning, according to the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner. The curriculum in form and content is designed to reflect and honour the different qualities of morning and afternoon; each day of the week, and each passing season.
Recognising and marking seasonal characteristics has always been important in both hunter-gatherer and farming societies alike. Industrialisation and mechanisation of lifestyle has largely diminished the need to live in tune with nature’s rhythms. However, a return to garden farming and other earthly pursuits has brought about fresh interest in and commitment to those rhythms.
When I migrated to Australia from the UK in my twenties, I was struck by the discord between celebrations, such as Easter and Christmas and Halloween, and their placement on a social calendar, which mirrored the opposite seasons that they were meant to represent. I was particularly struck by the insanity of this, one day driving in the Perth CBD, when a giant glittering Christmas decoration beamed out light so strong in the summer midday sun that I was blinded at the wheel of my car. Luckily I was in near gridlock traffic!
In Perth I worked at a school for overseas students. At a Christmas function I was charged with facilitating some party games. When the games overran the scheduled time-slot, I was dismayed to receive the full wrath of an extremely overheated Santa Claus who had been suffering all the while in the wings.
As a parent I was drawn to Denmark’s rural idyll, to be closer to nature and nature’s rhythms. For this reason too, I was drawn to the Steiner school, with the focus on seasonal celebration and reverence for nature’s gifts.
In 6 years as a parent at GHSS, I have delighted in the festivals that traditionally mark autumn, winter and spring. The expectation, the familiarity and repetition of the songs, the food, and the activities resonate more strongly with my children and I, each passing year.
This Spring Festival I saw my firstborn dance around the Maypole with ease and confidence. Last year she had been rather daunted at finally receiving the privilege of taking hold of the ribbons, a practice she had only observed in the years previous. Her little sister this year, first dared approach and reach out a curious hand to touch the wondrous rainbow lattice. We talked about how one day it would be her turn to dance around the magical springtime pole.
Rainbow Spring invites you to look around at the colours ‘springing’ up around you. How do nature’s colours greet you in the morning, and inspire you through your day? As you rise from winter’s slumber are you dazzled by the earth’s waking spectrum of light, scent and sound?
Rainbow Spring would love to hear about your observations, adventures and fresh intentions for this vibrant, capricious time of year.
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We are the guardians of the cultural practices the next generation will inherit. Let’s give some thought to what we ourselves have inherited. Which practices do we wish to bless and pass forward? Are there some travesties of oversight, such as the poor boil-in-the suit santa, we might perhaps not need to repeat?