FRIDAY, 1ST MAY – This year’s St. John’s Fire was held in a field a short walk away from the school. Having finished the school day by 11am, this midsummer celebration was a lovely way to round off the morning and a busy week.
The bonfire was built by our Class 7&8 teacher, and members of his class were chosen to carry flaming torches that were carefully placed in the heart of the pyre. Before long, tall, long, orange flames flared up from the centre to reach up toward the summer sky, inviting us to gather around it in a wide circle and sing traditional midsummer songs.
The children sang heartily and their bright countenances and colourful, red clothing made up for the sun hiding behind grey clouds. In their hands, the younger students clutched their wish parcels – small parcels of coloured tissue paper wrapped around a slip of paper on which they had written their wish. They hurled these with great form into the brilliant blaze of the bonfire, with each wish parcel that was caught in the flames being met with a great cheer.
The fire is a traditional way to celebrate the height of summer and to honour St. John’s Eve. Signifying the heat and brightness of summer and alluding to the purifying quality of the flames, the bonfire was a rousing way of saying goodbye to the old and welcoming in the new.
The festival was brought to an end by a light shower that gently ushered us out of the field, with a few dedicated individuals remaining behind to keep a watch over the fire to the very end. These guardians of the flame managed to rescue any fallen wish parcels that had failed to reach the flames and tuck them in to the still-hungry embers so that the children’s wishes could be sent up into the sky with the stream of hot air rising from the smouldering fire.
Once again, it was great to have the whole community come together and picnic together and enjoy an exceptionally well-built fire. What a way to launch the summer!