2 May 2024

How many times a year do you sing Happy Birthday?

Early Learning
How many times a year do you sing Happy Birthday?
How many times a year do you sing Happy Birthday?
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Across the 365 days of the year there is, of course, many birthdays every day as well as festivals and celebrations throughout the year, but sometimes it does seem like all birthdays happen at once and then we go other months with no family or friend celebrations at all! But despite what feels like an influx of birthdays, anyone who knows me well (ELC staff especially) knows I love a celebration. I think there are always reasons to celebrate – and they don’t all have to be big and grand but opportunities to acknowledge a milestone, effort expended and achievements big and little.

Celebrations are important in our culture for many different reasons. They often become rituals in families highlighting what different families and cultures value. Rituals reflect family, cultural and religious values, and celebrations are a way of transmitting these beliefs and making sure they get passed on – a way of connecting with past generations and creating shared and ongoing connections within families.

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Some celebrations, like birthdays, are shared in a wider community acknowledging a significant milestone. These family rituals provide support for emotional development and allow for celebrations to grow and develop as the family changes over the years.

There is some good research now that supports why family rituals and celebrations are important. With our greater understanding of neurobiology there is evidence that rituals produce positive limbic discharges – the brain’s way of processing and expressing intense emotions – which lead to warmth and closeness between people. Both sides of the brain tend to be stimulated, which is good for our mental health and wellbeing.

In the ELC we have many opportunities to celebrate and create rituals, particularly birthdays, and each room has a particular ritual that the children come to know and anticipate. We also enjoy learning about your family celebrations and other cultural or religious celebrations and rituals.

We commenced the year with the Lunar New Year, followed by Carey’s 101st birthday (not such a big deal as last year), Easter, Ramadan, Passover, Anzac Day last week and, this weekend, Orthodox Easter – these celebrations are connected to the children, staff and families we have at Carey. For the ELC children, these celebrations need to connect with them and their people or experiences to make it make sense to be in their realm of reality.

We would love to hear about your family rituals and celebrations – it provides a richer experience for us all.

Wendy Seidler
Director of ELC Kew

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