Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Oktoberfest 2009

I've always loved family traditions. It's great to anticipate the events, activities, decorations and food that come year after year with predictability.

Waldorf education "emphasizes early experiences of daily and annual rhythms, including seasonal festivals drawn from a variety of traditions." It's believed that these rhythms positively impact the children's development, helping them learn to regulate themselves and learn to anticipate things in life.

This philosophy is one of the ideas that has made me consider Waldorf education with interest. Particularly important are the festivities celebrating the change into new seasons of the year. I love this idea of being closer to nature and the seasons, and finding natural rhythms to our lives so I've been looking into the Waldorf-celebrated festivals.

The festival celebrated to mark the beginning of the fall is Michaelmas. This is the celebration of the Archangel Michael fighting against the dragon and casting him out of heaven. It usually involves swords and capes and all kinds of dragon references.

I took quite a few days of research and pondering--along with Jeremy--to decide whether or not we wanted to introduce this tradition into our home. Because although I want to bring enjoyment and fun, I also don't want to confuse truth in our home, or introduce doctrines that conflict with or confuse what we are trying to actively teach our children.

I read Revelation chapter 12 which tells the story of Michael and the dragon. But in truth, I found much of the symbolism of the dragon and his tail that "drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth", to be so plain to me that I hardly noticed that it was symbols telling me the familiar story. So to turn around and emphasize the symbols to my children instead of the plain teachings did not sit well with me.

Yet, I was sad to not have this significant celebration to mark the beginning of fall. Until, I remembered that we already had our own celebration to mark the beginning of fall.


My family got to enjoy some of the festivities each year while we lived in Germany, and since getting married Jeremy and I have been particularly keen to continue to celebrate the fest. So now, we have another reason to continue our celebrations!

Generally our celebrations will include some assortment of the following:
  • Bratwurst
  • Senf (That's mustard, but not the sissy yellow American stuff, it must be brown, speckled, and contain horseradish. . . mmm. . . )
  • Kaiser rolls
  • Sauerkraut
  • Lebkuchen
  • Rootbeer
And the most fun kind of root beer is homemade! We enjoyed some this past weekend at our annual celebration.

We've tried homemade rootbeer a number of times, and have found a recipe that gives us good success.

1 bottle Rootbeer extract (2 oz)
5 gallons water
5 pounds sugar
5 pounds dry ice

It's easy to remember the 1-5-5-5 recipe, but usually we only actually use 4 pounds of sugar. And this time, since it was a small party we halved the recipe.

I boiled the sugar in part of the water to dissolve it. This is the first year I've done this but feel it's necessary because the sugar never fully dissolves in cold water.

The water will hold more fizz if it's cold to begin with. So chill it and pour the water, and sugar water into the cooler.

We used some sassafras flavoring this year for the heck of it as well.

Pour flavorings into the water and stir.

Add dry ice and RUN!!! I mean put a lid on it.

You need to make sure the vessel you're using is large enough that the syrup doesn't start splashing and bubbling out over the sides when you drop the dry ice in. (We and the kitchen floor of "The Burrow" learned that one the hard way.) Also, if you're afraid of your cooler blowing up you can release pressure every once in a while. In about 20 minutes, you have delicious homemade rootbeer.

And I know that our kids will remember this tradition!


the Provident Woman said...

Sounds like you have a great tradition. I want to try to make root beer how fun!

aleatha said...

that looks so fun!

have you ever had a bierock? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bierock

they're really popular around here because of all the German immigrants from way back when. you make bread dough and divide it into roll-size pieces, then stuff each piece with a mixture of cooked ground beef or sausage, saurkraut, onions, whatever sounds yummy and German, and then you bake it until the rolls are done. you end up with what looks like dinner rolls but they are actually stuffed and are kind of like hamburgers. yummmy!

Tyler M. said...

Looks like fun!

We actually threw a little Oktoberfest for the elders in my district that I am teaching. Good times for all!


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