Inside: Here are 7 fun ways to celebrate your ancestors’ birthdays. Creating a monthly birthday calendar; singing “Happy Birthday” in the musical style your ancestors’ lived; naming a star after ancestors, growing gardens with their namesake flowers, and of course—making an ancestor birthday cake!
Celebrating Your Ancestors’ Birthdays!
You have a long list of ancestors. You want to honor and celebrate their lives but are not sure where to begin. Well, there are literally dozens of ways to remember your ancestors’ including celebrating their birthdays!
Use it as a time to pause and think about those people who came before you, who influenced your lives in interesting ways, and who would probably love hearing someone sing “Happy Birthday” to them—even if they’re 200+ years old!
Here are 7 exciting and interactive ideas on how to celebrate your ancestors’ birthdays with your families.
#1 Create a Birthday Calendar
Start by creating a list of your ancestors. Include the month (and dates) they were born. If you want, add a picture by their name.
Organize your list into months—all the ancestors’ birthdays for January on one list; all the February birthdays on another list and so on through December.
I keep my list in plastic sheet protectors and I tuck the list inside a binder for easy access. As we discover more ancestors, I add their names to the monthly birthday list.
Each month, celebrate all the ancestors who were born in that particular month.
If you have ancestors that you don’t have the exact month or year they were born, put them on an “About (Abt.) List” and include some of these people each month with your other ancestors.
#2 Sing Happy Birthday in the Musical Style of Their Era
It’s a no-brainer to sing the “Happy Birthday” song to your ancestors.
However, it’s more interesting if you sing this well-known song in the style of music from the era they lived.
Some music genres and corresponding composers popular throughout the ages include:
- Medieval– 1000- 1400 (which include Gregorian chants)
- Renaissance – 1400-1600 (Palestrina, Monteverdi)
- Baroque – 1600-1750 (Bach, Vivaldi)
- Classical – 1750-1830 (Mozart, Beethoven)
- Romantic – 1830-1900 (Brahms, Tchaikovsky)
- 20th Century – 1900-2000 (Debussy, Stravinsky)
- Modern – 2000-present (pop, jazz, rock, country: these genres started before 2000 but for some odd reason are classified under the “Modern” musical genre on Google)
Download music from each style from Spotify and then add the words from the Happy Birthday song to the music you choose.
For example, many of our ancestors were born in the classical period of music (1750-1830). So, I took Mozart’s variation of a French folk song, “Ah, vous dirai-je, Maman,” (what we know as “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,”) and we sang Happy Birthday to those ancestors using that familiar tune.
You’ll find that in any given month, your ancestors’ birthdays cover several musical genres. Choose one or two genres to sing to everyone that month.
If you have lots of ancestors whose birthdays you are celebrating in a given month—divide those names up between family members and when you get to the part where you sing their names, have family members take turns boldly singing each ancestor’s name.
#3 Making Ancestors’ Birthday Hats
Here’s a festive way to celebrate your ancestors’ birthdays—create colorful birthday hats for everyone complete with ancestor pictures on top of paper birthday candles!
Our grandkids have a ball making these hats each month and insist on wearing them throughout the ancestor festivities.
- Birthday cake template ($2 from An Idea on Tuesday)
- Kwik Stix markers
- Pictures of ancestors
- Download the birthday cake template—one for each child
- Using Kwik Stix markers, color the cake and candles
- Cut out pictures of your ancestors (we used pictures of our ancestors as children).
- Glue the candles on top of the cake.
- On the top of each candle, glue a picture of one of your ancestors
- Cut 3×28″ wide strips of poster board for a headband for each cake
- Glue the cake to the middle of the posterboard strip
- Create a birthday hat by measuring the circumference of each child’s head. Then glue the strips in place
- Have everyone wear their birthday hats for the ancestor birthday celebration.
#4 Name a Star After Your Ancestors for Their Birthdays
Naming (or registering) stars after people can be fun. However, there is absolutely NO official validity to naming stars after people. No one on earth owns a galaxy of stars and can officially name them after people.
What you are paying companies to name a star after someone—is the big certificate they send you in the mail.
However, business aside, it’s a fun way to remember your ancestors on their birthdays.
Since there’s nothing valid about it, here’s an inexpensive way to do it.
Download the names of some stars in the galaxy. Here are the names of the top eight stars:
- Alpha Centauri A
You can also check out Staracle to register a star for one of your ancestors for FREE. When you go to their website, choose “Free Plan” on the bottom left side.
Once you have decided on a star to name for an ancestor, download one of my FREE star certificates. All you need to do is fill in the blanks with the date, your family name, the name of the star, and your ancestor’s name. Click here to download star certificate number one. Click here to download certificate number two.
Stay organized and keep all the star certificates in a binder. It’s impossible to remember a star and ancestor combination unless you keep a record…
The Little Prince, Stars & Our Ancestors
Have you ever read the book, “The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry? It is a favorite of mine. Here is an excerpt from the book about stars and the memories of those we love:
“All men have the stars but they are not the same things for different people. For some, who are travelers, the stars are guides. For others, they are no more than little lights in the sky. For others, who are scholars, they are problems. For businessman they were wealth. But all these stars are silent.
You–you alone–will have the stars as no one else has them–”
“And at night you will look up at the stars.
My star will just be one of the stars, for you. “In one of the stars, I shall be living. In one of them, I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night
And so you will love to watch all the stars…
You–only you–will have stars that can laugh.
I shall not leave you”
There is sweetness
in the laughter of all the stars….
and in the memories of those we love.”
#5 Create Remembrance Ribbon Cards or Poppy Cards & Write Your Ancestors a Letter
Gather your family together and make remembrance ribbon cards for your ancestors’ birthdays.
Here’s how we made ours:
- Go to Art Projects for Kids and download their step-by-step instructions on how to make a remembrance ribbon.
- Once you have drawn your ribbon, you can write the name of the ancestor on the ribbon whose birthday you are celebrating.
- If you want to have a newsprint background from the year they were born—it’s difficult to find unless you are willing to pay for each newsprint. Or, you can download free newsprint here.
- I use Canva to finalize our cards—it’s free and easy to use.
- Put the newsprint on the background, the image of the remembrance ribbon on top, and then put the name of the ancestor on the ribbon and a small picture of them on the card.
- Print it off and glue it on the cover of ready-made cards. Click here to purchase the blank cards
If you want to do something special for your ancestors that fought in World War I, here is another idea on how to create these meaningful birthday cards:
Both my husband and I have grandfathers who fought in World War I. To commemorate their service, we made poppy cards for them using cardstock, newsprint, and pods from nature. Click here to get the directions to make the poppies. When completed, attach the poppies to a blank card.
After you’ve created your cards, have each family member write a short note to one of the ancestors whose birthday you are celebrating. Keep these cards in a notebook to remind you of your celebrations!
#6 Plant a “Birth Month Flower Garden”
Everyone loves flowers! They splash the world with color and make our yards look spectacular!
So celebrate your ancestors’ birthdays by planting a flower garden using some of the 12 birth month flowers.
Here are the flowers for each month:
- January: carnation, snowdrop
- February: violet, primrose
- March: daffodil, jonquil
- April: daisy, sweet pea
- May: lily of the valley, hawthorn
- June: rose, honeysuckle
- July: larkspur, water lilies
- August: gladiolus, poppy
- September: aster, morning glory
- October: marigold, cosmos
- November: chrysanthemum, peony
- December narcissus, holly
Every time you look at your garden—you’ll be reminded of all those ancestors whose birthdays are represented by each bloom!
#7 Bake a Cake for Your Ancestors’ Birthdays
A birthday celebration is not complete without the proverbial birthday cake!
Do you have favorite cake recipes from your ancestors? If so, use those recipes to make birthday cakes to include in your monthly ancestor celebrations.
If I’m putting the names of the ancestors on the birthday cake, I make a sheet cake. Click here for my husband’s grandmother’s famous Apple Raisin Cake. It’s not her exact recipe, but it’s delicious and a poignant reminder of her. We make it every February to honor her and other ancestors having birthdays in the month of February.
We’ve done these fun ancestors’ birthdays celebrations since 1985—with variations here and there.