In the lives of each and every one of us, there are moments that mark an important passage of growth. Actually, each birthday represents a new stage and a new milestone reached, but there are certain birthdays that carry more weight and importance than others: 18th Birthday is certainly one of them and deserves a worthy celebration.
Why celebrate 18th Birthday?
At the age of eighteen, one comes of ‘majority’ age and obtains a whole series of rights and duties typical of adulthood. Those who have reached the age of eighteen can obtain a driving license and drive a vehicle, they can exercise their right and duty to vote, they can work, have their own bank account, leave the country freely without asking their parents’ permission and authorisation, and administer their own property independently. Not to mention the conquered sense of freedom that comes with such a life passage.
Considering all these achievements and also taking into account the psychological threshold one crosses on coming of age, a worthy celebration and ritual to be shared together, parents and children and, if you wish, also inviting friends and relatives outside the close family circle, to show the world that one has joined the adult world, is certainly not to be missed.
Traditional and ‘unconventional’ families
“As a secular-humanist celebrant, I often celebrate an 18th Birthday through a ceremony in which I tell the life story of the protagonists; sometimes the life stories I deal with are linked to the world of adoption, to parenting, to ‘being a son/daughter’, to a path to becoming an “unconventional family”: in such cases, often, the story I tell begins in a far away country and requires special words and special attention. Other times, the roots of the birthday boy/girl are closer, but, in any case, they must always be told with that care and sensitivity, which every life story deserves, at every age.
A very special 18th birthday ceremony
The ceremony I want to share with you is very personal; it concerns my daughter. Out of professional deformation and a desire to make this moment even more unique and shared by all the members of the family, I could not resist the temptation and for her 18th birthday I thought of devising a symbolic rite designed and created especially for her; a rite that had to do with flowers and Nature, which she loves so much. I was inspired by an ancient tradition, very popular among Native American peoples, only instead of sand, I thought of using flowers, four flowers with a very special meaning. Four flowers for each member of our family.
Each flower I used represents a quality, a power, a characteristic and a strength that, at that moment, I wanted to give to my daughter, to wish her all the best and to make her stronger in adult life and in crossing the symbolic threshold of coming of age.
I matched a flower to each family member and gave each one a few petals enclosed in a small glass bottle.
The Rose for the birthday girl
I gave the birthday girl rose petals, enclosed in a small glass container, because the rose is the Queen of all flowers, it is strength and beauty and symbolizes love that conquers all (as the ancient Latins used to say: Amor vincit Omnia). The rose therefore seemed to me to be the most suitable flower for a young woman approaching life with delicacy, but also with strength and the will to achieve her goals.
Marigold for the birthday girl’s father
I gave the father, the Marigold flower; this flower, since antiquity, has a strong soothing power and has a very strong connection with the Moon, which has always been related to the woman, but also to the zodiac sign of Scorpio (the zodiac sign of my husband) and to the Major Arcana of the Tarot, number eighteen, the year in which one comes of age. Being a Tarot enthusiast that I am, I could not leave out this particular detail!
Lavender for the birthday girl’s brother
To the birthday girl’s younger brother, my son, I have given Lavender flowers, always enclosed in a small glass container, because, since ancient times, this plant has always had the meaning of purity, virtue and serenity, and has always been appreciated for its ability to attract positive energies towards oneself and one’s personal space. The wish combined with this flower is that the birthday girl can always count on the strong and positive bond of her brother and that she can establish and fully experience true, deep and lasting bonds.
Mallow for the mother of the birthday girl
In the language of flowers and plants, the mallow symbolizes maternal love and understanding. Mallow is also linked to ancient propitiatory rites of peace, purification and love, and is associated with the element of air. It is also traditionally known as the plant of purity. With Mallow, love potions and infusions were prepared that could eradicate the evil eye, purifying the body of all negative energy influences. I thought this was the right flower to match the mother figure of the birthday girl, wishing her to always be surrounded by an aura of benevolence, love and good fortune.
Just like a mother does.
A symbolic gesture full of colour and meaning
At the beginning of the ceremony, I prepared a glass bottle with a wide neck and placed it in the center of the table around which we were all seated: then, I asked each of the participants to alternately pour some flowers; my daughter started, followed by me, father and younger brother. At the end of this ceremony, accompanied by the new 18-year-old’s favourite music, these four flowers, so different and of different colours, united in the bottle, created something new, unique and colourful, a surprising composition with auspicious meanings.
A new beginning for a “grown-up” life
These flowers create surprising shapes and colours and tell of a new beginning, a beginning that the birthday girl (also with the contribution of her family) will be able to colour, day after day in her adult life.
The most beautiful wish we can make for our sons and daughters is precisely this: that they may shine in the world and illuminate their path, for themselves (first and foremost) and for those who will be worthy and worthy to stand beside them on the road and in the life they will choose.
With that unique and special love that only a mother and a father can give.