I admit to not being an Anthroposophist! As a non-believer, I have an open mind on the festivals which are advertised on the websites of Steiner schools. Michaelmas approaches – it is at the end of September, and most of us might assume it is to do with Autumn, harvest – onions, or runner beans, perhaps.
So I had a look in the Rudolf Steiner archive to see what Michaelmas is meant to be in anthroposophy. I searched hard for something relating to Autumn, and at last I found it; from
The Festivals and Their Meaning IV Michaelmas
The Significance of the Impulse of Michael
This is the great and powerful picture given us in the approach of autumn, so that from out of what happens in the cosmos we read the admonition: Nature consciousness must change in man into consciousness of self. But for this he needs the strength to overcome with his qualities of soul and spirit the inwardly death-bringing quality of animal-like Nature. For this he is given guidance when he looks out into the phenomena of the cosmos; to this he is guided by what is revealed in the figure of Michael, with his positive gaze and the flaming meteor-sword in his right hand. And Michael appears to us in that fight with the animalised desire-nature of which, also, a picture emerges from the loom of life. If we wish to paint this whole Imagination, we cannot paint it in any humanly arbitrary way; it can be painted only out of what is given by the cosmos. And the only way to picture the sulphurous element in it, rising into the heights with the elemental spirits in yellowish reddish shades, is in the figure of the Dragon, which takes shape from out of the sulphur. So that above the sulphurous Dragon, in whose burning head, as I might call it, is exhibited the desire-like process, above this Ahrimanised and sulphurised Dragon, we have Michael in the form I have described to you.
So there you have it.
It couldn’t be much further from the harvest festival we celebrated at my children’s primary school. Not much mention of vegetables here.
I must admit that whilst happily attending harvest festivals at primary school and joining in the songs, I never agreed with the idea that a deity had provided all the bounty displayed on the harvest table, but rather the hard work of the gardeners.
So you may say it doesn’t matter that parents are thinking something completely different about Michaelmas from what the school staff are thinking. (They are more concerned with Michael the archangel and the sword and the dragon.)
The staff are probably quite happy to let parents sit and think it is all about the harvest.
Some Steiner schools even have separate festivals which parents are not invited to, as well as those for families. Strange, huh?