Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Spirit of Birthdays

My daughter's school birthday celebration was lovely. I was invited to come along with her cake, that we'd baked yesterday, at 10 o'clock. I arrived to find her proudly arrayed in birthday crown and cloak, waiting with her attending 'angels' (her younger sister and a friend) to be conducted to the birthday table. I was seated at the head of the table and the other children also sat down, then she was brought by the little angels to stand by her teacher.

All the little things I'd been able to remember had been beautifully woven into a story of her life. The story started with a big angel and a little angel in heaven, with various tasks to do, and then when the time was right for her to join her new family on earth, she was brought over to sit on my lap. Her teacher then recounted the details of her life, how her big brother was having a bath upstairs as she was born and how as she learned to crawl, she used to crab crawl over to try and join his play. As each birthday was reached, in the story, a candle on the cake was lit.

When she was one came our move to South Africa, to our farm and her pushing through the long restios to visit her aunts' houses. Her second birthday brought her younger sister on the scene. There was a smile on her face as each little description of visits to the beach and holidays at the river brought a memory to the fore. By the time her sixth birthday was reached the first candle was flickering out and she had to hurry to blow them all out. Then came the wish, a secret told only to her fairy and her angel, as she cut the cake.

It all felt so special - a true celebration of her life and her choice to join our family - I had a twinge of teariness myself too. Afterwards each child presented her with a card they'd made, with a special wish for her. Some wished for golden rainbows, some for sunny days, another for her to be strong. At the end of the morning she got to bring home the birthday basket with her cards, a little present from her teacher, the flowers from the table and her crown, all now adorning her nature table by her bed. The cake was demolished but we managed to save some for her big brother to have later and for Dad.

It was almost more special than her real birthday, which inevitably ends up being a lot about presents and parties. This had all the spirit of the birthday in it, the essence distilled.


  1. I love this tradition, do they do that with all the children in Waldorf schools?

    What a special way to celebrate a life.

  2. I don't know if it's exactly the same everywhere around the world, but I'm sure they all do sonething similar in the kindergartens of the other Waldorf Schools. It was my first experience of it, as my son was a birthday refusnik, he hated the focus on him and didn't like Happy Birthday being sung, so refused to go to school on his birthdays at that age.


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