Our intention has always been to give our children simple, yet thoughtfully prepared and lovingly executed birthday celebrations. This year, our family shared the happy occasion with Mayumi’s classmates, teachers, and our co-parents at Bahay-bahayan ni Mariang Makiling.
Bahay-bahayan ni Mariang Makiling (BBMM) is a parent-initiated and Steiner/Waldorf-inspired community homeschool conceived in response to the need for holistic education for children and their family.
Inspired by what can be called a universal form of play – the “Bahay-bahayan”, the school emphasizes the role of play in learning. In Bahay-bahayan, a child enters a world of possibilities prompted by what-ifs and kunwari. In the world of play, children are free to be who they are as their innate creativity naturally emerge.
The Birthday Story
The story table was set when we arrived at the school. The teachers prepared the candles on the wooden birthday log, and arranged fresh flowers from the school garden.
The children, wearing felt birthday crowns, were seated, eagerly anticipating the start of the celebration.
Being a Waldorf-inspired kindergarten, our school has this beautiful tradition of telling a special story on each child’s birthday. The story tells of the journey of the star child who, guided by her angel, falls in love with a man and a woman, chooses them to become her father and mother, and decides to come to earth and live with them. We adopted this version written by Susan Bruck which Teacher Mike, our kindergarten nurturer, translated to Filipino.
The birthday child gets to choose a classmate who would play her angel in the story – a very special role indeed. The birthday child wears a rainbow crown and red, shiny cape, her angel wears a halo, and three other friends wear crowns of star, moon, and sun.
While the story is being told, the Tatay and Nanay sit at the other side of the table. As the child “crosses the rainbow bridge”, she comes to them depicting her birth.
The mood of the birthday should be very happy but not wild. The idea is to combine the joy of celebration with a reverential, slightly celestial mood. -Christine Natale, The Wonder of Childhood
After the story, the children were delighted to look at the scrapbook we prepared. The book showed photos of Mayumi’s birth, her birthday celebrations, and highlights of each year. We also showed our maternity photos which they found fascinating.
Of Handworks and Heart-made Gifts
Celebrations become extra special with things made from the heart.
A few days before the birthday, we had a close-to-real life photo shoot for the kids – a gift from their uncle. It was candid and so much fun!
We did not spend any cash at all, it is a zero-budget shoot because we got:
- my brother’s good eye for photography;
- outfits and props from our current wardrobe, toys, and instruments; and
- the perfect backdrops: our kubo, backyard, and freshly harvested rice field.
The kids loved playing on the dayami (haystack). More photos here.
“The sun with loving light makes bright for me each day, the soul with spirit power gives strength unto my limbs. In sunlight shining clear I revere, Oh God, the strength of humankind, which thou has planted in my soul, that I may with all my might, may love to work and learn. From thee stream light and strength to thee rise love and thanks.” – #RudolfSteiner #kaarawanniMayumi #waldorfinspired #birthdayphotoshoot #homemadeparties More photos on Facebook by Juan-sided Images @biyahengjuansided
Still part of the birthday tradition, each classmate and teacher made cards, and one by one, presented them to the birthday girl, who in turn, made a card for her nanay and tatay.
All decorations and costumes were handcrafted and could be enjoyed again and again. I made felt banners for the school a few months ago which the teachers hang during birthday celebrations.
We also brought the stuffed fabric letter banner that we’ve been decorating with every year since Mayumi’s second birthday.
For this year, I crafted Waldorf-inspired cake toppers: three-inch ‘Mayumi doll’ with rainbow crown and tiny felt buntings. We brought them home afterwards for our nature table.
Blessing and Sharing the Meal
The children and grown ups gathered around the dining table and sang a song, blessing the food and the hands that prepared it.
We brought vegetable pasta from Berris Cuisine and veggie burgers especially prepared by Mayumi’s ninang. The teachers baked banana muffins as they do on every child’s birthday.
Sweets are not encouraged by the school but we were allowed to serve cake on special occasions. We were supposed to buy carrot cake but chose red velvet cake instead because it’s the only detail requested by the little girl. We ordered ours with cream cheese buttercream from Bertie’s Artisan Bakeshop.
The Birthday Coronation
The kids themselves have started their own birthday tradition. They end every celebration with a ‘coronation ceremony’ while the grown ups cheer them on. They would wear crowns and capes, and one by one, they would walk as princes and princesses. The birthday child would be given the “most royal” title of king or queen.
All of us had a blast!