St John’s Festival

It is the Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. Our days are short. Our nights are long and cold. The earth is cold. The air is crisp and cold. Brown leaves lie everywhere. We need fire to warm our bodies and our homes. The best thing about winter is a warm wood fire with flames leaping and dancing.

To be warm and dry at night is something to be grateful for on these long cold nights. Soon it will be the winter holidays and a change of rhythm and hopefully some more sleep, late mornings instead of the alarm at 6am.

In this last week of school the highlight is the St Johns festival. It will be our family’s last one in Primary school. I have experienced twelve St John’s festivals. A few at Michael Mount (in Bryanston) where the families wait, huddled together in the cold dark evening and watch the line of lanterns from primary and high school coming down to the field. It is a remarkable and wondrous sight, seeing the small flames moving purposefully through the darkness accompanied by the children singing: “St John, St John, the messenger of light“.

Excitedly a few of the children light the bonfire enabling huge flames to rise up higher than our heads into the dark night. The sounds of delight and awe can be heard amongst the children. We are all lit up by the huge light emanating from the fire. For the first time we can now see who is around us and the expressions on the children’s faces watching the flames.

Once the flames have died down, we all jump over the ashes. Gathering together again we share warm soup, laughter, and excited chatter is heard, before heading home in the dark with our faces warmed by the fire, our bodies warmed from the soup, and our hearts warmed by the community.

Dwelling in silence on the beauties of life
gives the soul strength of Feeling.
Thinking clearly on the truths of existence
brings to the spirit the light of will.

-Rudolf Steiner

Jane Fitzgerald Class 7 parent