We recently celebrated my daughter's 4 year birthday. It is so fun to celebrate now that she is aware and interested in celebrations and traditions. This year we started some new traditions. These traditions are inspired by Montessori and Waldorf birthday celebrations.
I love the birthday ring, originating in Europe and used by Waldorf families. Each year another ornament is removed and a candle put in it's place.
I added a bit of Montessori to this, with the telling of my daughter's life story. Before any candle was lit, I started by saying: "______ was born September 16, 2005 in (city, state). It was a warm evening, around dinner time when you were born in the hospital. Mommy and daddy had waited all day and Grandma had arrived to see your birth. At 5:16 you were born. You had lots of dark hair on your head and you were so small. You had to be held and taken care of all the time. You couldn't talk to tell us what you needed, you slept a lot, you had to wear diapers and drank only milk. By 6 months you could sit up, laugh and hold things. (Then I lit a candle) Then you turned one. When you were 1, you learned to___, you liked to___ . I continued to her present age and said: "And now, you turn 4 years old! You can ____ . Your favorite food is___, and you love to _____. Happy 4th Birthday."
The telling of the life story is part of the Montessori celebration. Parents write it with their child and then come into the class to share it while the child does the "birthday walk." The life story is a tradition they look forward to hearing each year . The birthday ring is a beautiful way to celebrate years of life, past and future, but even if you don't have a birthday ring, you can just as easily use the candles on the birthday cake to light and tell your child his/her life story.
Another tradition we started was the personal time-line. The time-line is part of the Montessori birthday celebration. The child (with the help of the parent) puts the photos in order to make a personal time-line. We will keep ours and add to it each year.
Our other traditions include a birthday place mat, a birthday crown, and a special morning surprise waiting at the child's seat at the kitchen table.
I would love to hear what birthday traditions you use!