Friday, 13 December 2013

Holidays Around the World: Part 3



My most striking impression of the Christmas festive time is from my days when I worked at I lived in a large community with able bodied and persons with handicaps or learning difficulties. I was responsible for 2 young ladies, one of whom had mental and physical problems, the other had a form of autism. Needless to say our days were challenging, on every scale, but it was immensely fun and seriously rewarding.

Within Camphill the passing of the days, months and years are marked with various celebrations and traditions. For advent there is the advent spiral.

I found this the most breathtaking experience ever and it still brings a tear to my eye. The room is darkened and everyone comes in quietly singing. In the centre of the room is a large pillar candle and leading out from it is a spiral made from precious stones, mosses and fir branches.

One by one each young person takes their candle, usually in a holder made from a red apple, and walks the spiral into the centre, lights their candle and comes back out. They place their candle somewhere on the spiral. Now that sounds straightforward, but imagine you are someone with physical and mental restrictions. I was unsure that my young friend would be able to walk the spiral, nor light a candle, nor place the candle on the floor. "Watch" said the quiet voice of my most lovely housemother, in my ear, and my friend started walking, alone, somewhat lopsided, but purposefully into the centre, lit her candle and only needed some assistance to place it safely on the floor on the return journey.

I have tears in my eyes as I type this, just so special for a handicapped child to manage to 'collect' their fragile being together enough to carry out this magical moment, all by themselves and start the process of lengthening the days of winter.

After all have placed their candle apples the room is very much filled with light and this marks the start of the Christmas celebration time.

By Julie, &


  1. Touching story, thanks for sharing!

  2. What a lovely story and wonderful memory Julie.

  3. Oh, Julie, that must have been amazing! Imagine the sense of accomplishment that must have brought them! What a lovely tradition.

  4. What an enchanting story I now have tears in my eyes too. Why does Christmas do that to us all? Memories I suppose. Have a lovey time where ever you are. Pam XX