Celebration of Life
October 15th, 2012
Today was a festive day as my first-born celebrated her fourth birthday. I’m sure I’ll share additional birthday thoughts once I sort through the pictures and come out of the sugar-induced brain freeze, but I wanted to share how Miss Mouse celebrated her big day at school.
Not surprisingly, the Montessori classroom has its own approach to birthdays. They’re called “Celebrations of Life” and They Are Awesome.
Here’s how it works. The children all sit in a big circle on the floor. At the center of the circle is a candle sitting on a cut-out of the sun. Around the sun are pieces of paper with the months of the year written on them. The candle is lit in honor of the birthday child and a brief statement of blessing is said about how we’re so happy she’s here.
The birthday child then holds a globe in her hands and walks slowly around the circle while her classmates call out the months of the year. Because, after all, that’s how one grows! The earth goes around the sun and – voila! – you’re another year older.
They repeat the ritual for as many years as the child is old, then sing Happy Birthday. Parents are invited to participate by bringing in pictures of their child throughout her life. We shared a picture of Miss Mouse just after she was born, then pictures of her at each age. She would pause in her circuit around the sun as I held up a few pictures and talked about what she was like at one, two, and three and mentioned a few milestones (like getting a baby brother and moving to Kentucky).
After the Celebration of Life, we had treats out on the playground.
The whole thing was so lovely. The intentionality of the ceremony and the focus on the birthday child as “important person in our lives” rather than just “source of sugar” were beautiful to me. I managed not to cry, but it was a close call.