Thursday, December 13, 2007


Yesterday I spent a couple hours participating in the dress rehearsal for the kindergarten Christmas program which will be held this Saturday. Every year it is about the same probably because it is so well received and heart-warming. First there is a Christmas service with a mother's choir performing and a few words from the pastor, then there is a program with each of the classes performing songs and finally there is a Christmas pageant performed by the oldest kindergarten class.

I was able to take pictures of the service part of the program but I was up on stage with the kids for their songs so I don't have pictures of that. I had to leave before the pageant began but that is a wonderful sight. I wonder if I'll be able to take pictures on Saturday.

In Japan kindergartens accept children from age three and at Mifumi Kindergarten there is a three year old class, a four year old class, a five year old class and a six year old class. All together a little over 100 children and the number of teachers is amazing! Mifumi accepts two handicapped children in each class and for each of those children one teacher is assigned to be with the child at all time. Some years there are physically handicapped children, most often there are Down Syndrome or Autistic children. I can say for sure that these "challenged" children's presence really are huge factors in developing the other children's caring hearts and spirit of helping. It is wonderful to see such little children helping another one who doesn't quite understand or who can't do something for himself. Every year the mothers can get very emotional watching the littlest, weakest up on stage surrounded by other children guiding and prompting.

Here is a picture of the Christmas service part of the program. The oldest class files in first and they are all dressed in robes that are used every year for Christmas and then again for graduation in March. Once lined up the teacher lights the first child's candle from her own and in turn, each child passes the flame along to another child until all are lit. I'm sure the kids have been instructed very carefully about how to hold the candle and to keep their eyes on the flame.

"Please don't close your eyes for this prayer!"

Since most of these children have attended the kindergarten for three years they all know that it is a great responsibility granted to them as the oldest class to be given real, flickering candles and all the children are very serious. After the candles are lit, the younger classes file in and they have little white satin collars around their necks tied with a ribbon (helped make those this spring). They are given little "flashlights" with candle flame light bulbs to carry and they look enviously at the oldest class with the real flames and talk amongst themselves about how they can hardly wait to hold a real candle.

"Light the Advent Candle Two,
Think of humble shepherds who

Filled with wonder at the sight

Of the Child on Christmas night."


atet said...

How beautiful!

anne bebbington said...

In these politically correct 'nanny state' days here in the UK there is NO WAY that naked flames would be allowed within a million miles of small children - I think this is very sad and the gesture of passing the light from one person to another until the whole place is lit is a very powerful image we once used at a Carol service at my home church in Yorkshire - I think that Japanese children must be far more responsible and sensible than English children - I can imagine a nasty smell of burning hair if we tried anything like that with the littlies where I work. I should think the whole event brings a tear to more than the parents eyes

dee said...

That last picture is so sweet. I grew up in a German household and can remember my grandmother lighting actual candles on a real tree as well as the Advent candles. I agree with Anne, here the States there would be some sort of "celebration police" telling us we couldn't have candles near children. It's kind of a shame. I loved the tradition of carrying the candles down the isle in church. So pretty.

Nancy said...

This is just lovely.

At our church we celebrate a Santa Lucia festival and a couple of years used electric candles at someone's insistence. We resumed the use of real candles, confident that even the youngest participants could handle this huge responsibility, and we were right!