It’s my youngest daughter’s birthday in 10 days and its time to think of birthday preparations. I always read The Birthday Book beforehand ( written by experienced Waldorf mothers) as it has so many wonderful ideas for making birthdays special and it gets me in the mood!
“A birthday is a time of hope – of looking to the future. For a child it brings a sense of being special, of achievement and inner satisfaction…young children, for whom the world is still new and constantly changing enjoy and find support in the anticipation of familiar and trusted things.”
We started many of our birthday traditions when the children were young. I think I first got hold of the book when my eldest daughter was in Playgroup at 3 years old and I have added a few things in over the years as things have developed and the children have grown.
In the Birthday book I mentioned, the authors warn not to take on anything that you aren’t prepared to continue over the years
” Minor actions innocently initiated by an adult may be taken up by the child as a significant ingredient of the birthday event; a feature introduced for one child’s birthday may well be anticipated by a sibling when his own special day draws near. All such ‘traditions’ once established become an essential feature of the birthday and woe betide the parent who forgets or attempts to make changes! “
I certainly find with my daughters that they know every detail of what their birthday entails and look forward to them all. I am sure they would notice and be disappointed if anything were missing. I have written all the details down (in a special book I keep for such occasions), so I don’t forget anything and I would certainly recommend doing this, especially at the beginning.
Many of our long standing traditions were found in the Birthday book and altered slightly to suit our family. It is a wonderful resource with so many ideas it can seem rather overwhelming what to include. I recommend adding the things that really resound with you and that you can keep up year after year.
I always put a nice tablecloth on the table. A light coloured one for my spring born child and a darker one for my autumn born one. Their chair is covered with a rainbow coloured piece of fabric ( to reflect their journey over the rainbow bridge when they were born). I also hang a balloon from it ( my girls love balloons – a lot more than I love them!) so it feels very special, like a throne.
On our birthday table ( dining table), we have a wooden Birthday ring at the centre with little wooden figures on it including the birthday age, a seasonal felt flower fairy and some small beeswax candles. I usually put a little vase of seasonal flowers or a plant in the middle. My mother always put a vase of roses on the table when it was my birthday in the summer and it meant a lot. In fact, it is one of my most lasting memories of my birthday. Any special touches go a long way.
I made the girls a felt birthday crown each some years ago. I found the pattern on a blog that I can’t find anywhere now, but there is a great tutorial for something similar at Frontier Dreams and in the book The Creative Family. I used 100% wool felt from Myriad who have a large selection of beautiful colours. (I made one crown with 50% wool felt, but it looked quite worn after just two years of wear, so I had to remake it in 100% wool felt and it looks so much better and will last. It is certainly worth spending more to get the right materials.) The crowns again reflect the season the child was born in, so my autumn born has darker colours than my spring born child. They appreciate this detail. I also made mini birthday crowns for their Waldorf dolls (that I made them for Christmas a couple of years ago) and both these await them when they arrive at the Birthday table.
On the night before their birthday I recite them a poem, that I found in Gateways, just before they go to sleep to create a lovely sense of anticipation:
“When i have said my evening prayer,
And my clothes are folded on my chair,
And mummy switches off the light,
I’ll still be … years old tonight.
But from the very break of day,
Before the children rise and play,
Before the darkness turns to gold,
Tomorrow i’ll be… years old.
…kisses when i wake,
… candles on my cake.”
I lay a path of cut out cardboard shapes ( stars for my autumn born and flowers for my spring born) from their bedside all the way down the stairs to the birthday table. They pick them up as they go down.
I also hang crepe paper streamers from their door frame, one for each year. These are also in seasonal colours. It is so nice to create the mood of the season with all these details, I find.
I slightly alter the nature table for birthdays. At the moment our nature table is very simple for Whitsun , but I will add some little felt flower children I made and a wooden rainbow and other touches to make it special, including a photo of my daughter as a baby.
I hang up birthday bunting on all our birthdays and a paper chain in seasonal colours for the girls’ birthdays ( that we made together some years ago) and adjust the mobile over the table to suit the birthday mood.
We wrap the presents up in silks using finger knitted wool to tie them up. It looks beautiful and saves the environment too.
I always try to make a few things for the girls as they treasure home made things – am sure they feel all the love and time that went into them to make the present uniquely theirs. This year I am making R a wool fairy to hang by her bed and a tiered skirt. I still haven’t started yet, but hopefully there is enough time…there might be a few late nights coming up!
On the actual birthday we always read a few birthday stories. A must is On the night you were born . It acknowledges how unique, special and loved each child is and is like wrapping the birthday child up in a warm hug of approval! We also like A Little House Birthday and Little Grey Rabbits Birthday.
I love making my children’s birthdays special. They deeply appreciate it and it is my pleasure too.