The Joyful Journey

Goundhog Day and Candlemas


So many of our modern holidays and festivals have their roots in ancient traditions. Christmas celebrations may include a crèche, decorated tree, stockings hung by the fire, and an Advent calendar counting the days until a jolly figure delivers us gifts via a reindeer powered sleigh. Many Christians mark Easter celebrations with a church service combined with a rabbit hiding colored eggs and baskets filled with treats. Our modern celebrations often merge these rituals so thoroughly that it is difficult to trace their origins.

The calendar tells us that February 2 is Groundhog Day. This is the day we look towards the predictive powers of the Groundhog to discern whether our winter is nearly through. What are the roots of this celebration?

February 2 marks the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. For ancient agrarian cultures, this came with the hope that the struggle of winter was coming to an end, and was a time to bless spring plantings and the awakening earth. Christian cultures marked this day as Candlemas, the day that Jesus was first brought to temple, 40 days after his birth. In the Middle Ages, Candlemas was marked with a church service to bless the candles used in the upcoming year, and homes were tidied to sweep away the winter gloom and make ready a space for new beginnings.

The weather on Candlemas was thought to predict the coming spring:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.

And there was this German proverb:

The badger peeps out of his hole on Candlemas Day,
and, if he finds snow, walks abroad;
but if he sees the sun shining he draws back into his hole.

So both Groundhog Day and spring-cleaning have their roots in the ancient celebration of Candlemas.

In our Waldorf School, we celebrate Candlamas and its promise of spring and the return of the light. During the day, one-by-one, the children of each class dip candles for the upcoming year and they may recite the following verse.

Candle, candle burning bright
Winter’s halfway done tonight.
With a-glowing we are knowing
Spring will come again!

You might consider marking Candlemas at home with a candlelit meal. Or perhaps by sweeping out your hearth and lighting a new fire to provide light and warmth in these waning days of winter, and giving a fresh place for inspiration to grow.

A Musical Celebration for the Solstice

This year’s Yuletide Revels performance, presented from the Meadowbrook Music Program, is a medieval mystery play celebrating the winter solstice. Renowned Rhode Island music teacher, Joe Smith, has drawn works from sacred and secular traditions that interweave the familiar and beloved with the rare and intriguing. With the collaboration of MWS Strings Director, Jeremy Fortier, Mr Smith has worked with the middle school students to create an evening of music perfect for the season. Bill Ouimette will conduct the Meadowbrook Recorder Ensemble in a medieval mystery play with a spoken narrative telling a tale of the moon pitted in jealous battle against the sun. The haunting Abbot’s Bromley, an ancient pagan piece that venerates the elk while poking fun at convention, will also be presented.

???????????????????????????????The performance takes place on the 245th anniversary of Ludwig von Beethoven’s birth and the Middle School Choir will sing Ode to Joy – Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee in his honor. Choral Director, Susan Bosworth, will also lead the choir in Lux Aeterna with text from the Requiem Mass that celebrates the divine eternal light.

This wonderful evening of music and community is open to all and admission is free. Please join us at the URI Performing Arts Center, 105 Upper College Road, Kingston on Wednesday, December 16 at 7pm.



Advent Spiral – A Community Gathering

What is Advent? What is an Advent Spiral?


We have just entered into the season of Advent.  Traditionally celebrated the four Sundays before the winter solstice, it marks a time of introspection as we all await the return of the sun and lengthening days.  This seasonal remembrance of light takes place in many cultures across the globe.  At our Waldorf school, we mark this season with weekly Advent spiral walks.

Our local community is invited to participate in this weekly moment of reflection. Please park in the visitor lot and follow the candle-lit path into the forest where you can walk the Advent spiral and place your offering along the path. You may bring something from home or pick a natural trinket from the start of the path to add to the spiral. In this way our community comes together co-creating the garden spiral.

Examples of items are:
The first light of Advent honors the mineral world.  Small shells, gems or rocks are appropriate for this week.

The second light of Advent honors the plant world. Acorns, pine cones, a dried flower or holly sprig would be wonderful additions to the path this week.

The third light of Advent honors the animal world. Perhaps you might add a small feather you have found or a piece of beeswax in the shape of a favorite animal this week.

The fourth light of Advent honors the light of man. During this final week we are in the darkest days of our year and we bring the light within ourselves to the spiral. You are invited to carry a candle through the spiral and then leave your candle along the path. In this way, we are leaving our light to illuminate the path for all of us. Candles are provided at the start of the path on this evening.

advent_spiral_dusk_mwsAfter walking the path, families often take a short time to sit together quietly. Participating in our Advent spiral is a lovely way to model a quiet reverence of nature to our little ones. Often the youngest of our visitors take many turns walking the spiral, first holding a parent’s hand and then becoming brave enough to test their independence and walk the path alone.

By marking our seasonal journey out of darkness with the quiet contemplation of Advent, we make space in this hectic time of celebration and busyness to remember our connection to the earth and each other.

Advent Spiral Dates for 2015

The local community is invited to join us in this small act of contemplation that we hold each Sunday of Advent from 4-5 pm.

November 29th (Minerals)
December 6th (Plants)
December 13th (Animals)
December 20th   (Humans)

Advent Spiral Verse

The first light of Advent is the light of the stones that sparkle through seashells, crystals and bones.
The second light of Advent is the light of the plants that reach to the sun and in the breeze dance.
The third light of Advent is the light of the beasts that swim, crawl or fly, be they great, be they least.
The fourth light of Advent is the light of man, in love and in thought, to give and understand.

Chocolate, Cheese & Wine – with Books!

Our annual sale of gently used books is back with even more to offer this year. Don’t miss this fun night out!  There will be no used book room at the Holiday Faire this year so this event is your only chance to get some great previously-loved books for a bargain price while supporting Meadowbrook.

chocolate_wine_book_saleWhen:   Thursday, Nov 12  from 6-9 pm &
Friday, Nov 13 from 8:30-11 am
& 6 -9 pm  - Click here to RSVP!

Where:  Earth Care Farm (The Loft)
89A Country Drive
Charlestown, RI 02813

Suggested Donation: $10 (at door)


MWS parents Jill Dockray and Erica LePore have once again collected tons of amazing used books and are spending countless hours sorting them to make browsing easier for you. They will have chocolate, cheese, and wine to enjoy while you shop so come with your wish list or find something unexpected. As always, there will be hundreds of used books by fabulous authors in all genres for both children and adults and Jill and Erica will be on hand to help with book suggestions. If you love books, you’ll love this event.  Everyone loves chocolate, cheese and wine so you really can’t go wrong!

This year the event includes a book signing by local author, Jeanine Silversmith.  Pick up your copy of the Rhode Island Family Hiking Guide along with some other GREAT holiday gifts, including food gift baskets and simple DIY centerpieces to give to a friend or keep for yourself.

All proceeds benefit the Meadowbrook Waldorf School.  See you there!

This is part of our annual fundraising associated with the Holiday Faire coming up on November 21st.


Site Design and Development by Ian O'Brien | Background painting by Nicole Besack | Select Photos by Monica Rodgers and Seth Jacobson