In a blog post Gregoire Perra describes “Les dessous de la magie de la Kermesse de Noël des écoles Steiner-Waldorf ” .
“The underside of the magic of the Christmas fair at Steiner Waldorf schools”.
He says the Advent Fair or market is the occasion where many parents discover Waldorf Steiner for the first time and decide to send their children to a Steiner school, impressed by the atmosphere.
Here are some of his observations;
It is as if you are in an enchanted castle… or a pixie cave – you are transported to another world.
It is a cultural event where people affirm and reinforce their devotion and allegiance to their particular school and to Steiner Waldorf in general.
Many old students return for these events every year like a kind of pilgrimage, revelling in nostalgia.
It can take a school a whole month to prepare for the market – teachers, students and parents – and some parents work all year round on craft items to sell.
The kind of goods on sale are hand-made items, anthroposophical books, and Weleda and Dr Hauschka products sold at reduced prices.
Teachers are called upon to give up many hours voluntarily – teaching children to make candles, emptying and decorating classrooms, rehearsing music, choir, orchestra, and parents are expected to contribute – perhaps meeting in a little attic room to make knitted pixies, advent braided wreaths, paper decorations and figurines.
Children’s lessons are spent contributing goods for the market – making decorations from fir cones, feathers and leaves.
Each family probably spends about 200 Euros on the fair, including contributing ingredients for baking (which must be organic), purchasing their child’s creations (there is an “elves’ cave” where one special object may be chosen to be purchased at 5 Euros – a reduced price – before the fair, the others will be put on general sale) and spending money on the day – tickets for the concerts, and paying to take part in workshops.
The total profit for a school can be 36,000 Euros.
So heavy machinery is used to create this magical festival.
It is a form of indoctrination creating devotion to one particular environment – anthroposophy. The suggestion is made aesthetically, not explicitly; the goods conform to the doctrine of anthroposophy; the faceless dolls, figurines, gnomes, fairies, and nature spirits are represented in natural materials.
There is much more to read on this and some pictures.
The Fair serves several purposes for the Steiner schools – fundraising (it seems on a much larger scale than other schools), bringing people together to reinforce their allegiance to the Steiner creed, and as a recruitment tool for new families. No wonder so much effort is put into it.