« View all events

Michaelmas Festival

Michaelmas is the first festival of the academic year in UK Steiner Waldorf schools. It traditionally is a highlight of the School calendar and an opportunity for the entire school to come together in an assembly, view a collaborative Michaelmas play from Classes 2 – 4 and break bread together in the School Hall. This year, Class 1 will be gifted wild flowers by their Class 12 buddies, as a recognition of this threshold of formal education.


We are reminded that as the cold days of winter approach we will need to draw on our internal strength and self will. Teachers, pupils and parents are encouraged to wear red in celebration of autumn and the harvest. All come together to join in singing St Michael’s Harvest Song.


All pupils take part in the festival in the days leading up to the event, creating a Harvest Table of seasonal fruits and vegetables; preparing a part of the shared meal of freshly made vegetable soup, cheese and school-baked rolls; laying the tables and clearing away; and bringing together the food bank donations. (The meal is always vegetarian, made with local and organic ingredients wherever possible, with gluten-free and vegan alternatives).


For the meal, seating in the School Hall is mixed with pupils from various Classes on each table; and involves more than forty adults from the school staff.


In recognition not everyone is able to enjoy a healthy balanced diet, since 2015 the school community have collected over 993.15kg of much needed foodbank items for Edinburgh Food Project, where an alumnus is a volunteer driver. (Visit Michaelmas Food Bank Collection for more details and this year’s needed food items).


Michaelmas, which began as an equinox and harvest festival in the Middle Ages, is also traditionally a feast to honour the archangel Michael. In Judaism, Christianity and Islam St Michael is a symbolic leader of the force of good over evil and courage over cowardice. The celebration of Michaelmas teaches the importance of overcoming fear and strengthening resolve.


Each pupil must face their own difficulties in life, both internal and external, and Michaelmas both educates and empowers the children and young people to find the courage to take on and defeat their personal dragons. And so, we celebrate Michaelmas in the Waldorf tradition to remind ourselves of the strength we need in the coming season and in our personal lives to defeat darkness and let hope prevail.


There is limited seating (if any) in the School Hall, as pupils from Classes 1 – 12 attend the assembly, play and flower exchange, alongside many teachers and ESS staff. Space is dependent on the current school roll; and ordinarily families with a child in the St Michael play or flower exchange would be invited through the school gates to join in the festivities and watch their child take part in this special tradition. Please contact the School Office on 0131 337 3410 if you would like to attend: 0131 337 3410


St. Michael’s Harvest Song

In autumn Saint Michael with sword and with shield
Passes over meadow and orchard and field.
He’s on the path to battle ‘gainst darkness and strife–
He is the heavenly warrior protector of life.

The harvest let us gather with Michael’s aid;
The light he sheddeth fails not nor does it fade,
And when the corn is cut and the meadows are bare
We’ll don Saint Michael’s armor and onward we’ll fare.

We are Saint Michael’s warriors with strong heart and mind,
We forge our way through darkness, Saint Michael to find.
And there he stands in glory; Saint Michael, we pray,
Lead us into battle and show us the way.