This year (2017) is a special year for Bahá’ís like myself. Come November, we are going to be celebrating the bicentenary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh, the Prophet-Founder of our religion. I have been thinking a lot about what it means, to celebrate birthdays in general, but also—and especially—to celebrate the birthday of someone I consider so important.
Lavish and Elaborate
My first instinct is to go lavish and elaborate. Certainly, it would be worth it, no? The more I love someone, the more I will spend time, money, energy, and effort on planning a celebration of this person’s birth, right?
I caught myself thinking like this quite a number of times over a number of years, actually. I mean, 2017 might be the bicentenary, but every year there is a birthday. And I went to countless celebrations that were definitely neither lavish nor elaborate, although the hosts had both the means and the capacity to make it happen, had they wished it. Why were we not putting more effort into something that is supposedly so important?
Simple and Well Thought Out
I realised, shortly after visiting London when I was a teenager, that something didn’t have to be lavish nor elaborate to be beautiful and worthy. Now this story dates from when I was quite young—young enough to just follow my parents around London, visiting places without quite remembering where they were nor, in some cases, what they were.
We went to two gardens during that particular visit. One was lush, thick, abundant, diverse, with countless plants, shrubs, trees, and flowers all over the place. It was gorgeous, every alley elaborate, every turn revealing something new.
The other garden was quite the opposite. It had only a couple of different plants, shrubs, trees, and flowers. Its alleys were few, they wound around in a simple, easy-to-predict fashion, in straight lines and easy curves.
Both gardens were breathtakingly gorgeous, and both gardens were perfect—because both gardens had been laid out in a thoughtful manner.
It wasn’t long after that I started really appreciating every event I attended; I started to see the beauty in simpler celebrations of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh, for example, every time I went to one that was well thought-out. And interestingly enough, I once happened to go to an event (a wedding, actually) that was lavish and elaborate, but in such disarray that it took away a lot of the shine off of it. So the event itself isn’t nearly as important as the thoughtfulness that goes into planning it, and no money can replace that.
Onto The Freebies
In order to keep things well thought-out in our own home, there are a few things that my husband and I do to celebrate certain events. One of them is to put up a homemade banner, a simple something I myself make and that we reuse year after year. We put these banners up 3-5 days before the actual event and keep it up at least 1-2 days afterwards, as a way to remember what we will be celebrating or have just celebrated. They are also pretty!
I have emailed the printable of these banners to many friends who have seen them hanging in our home, and have decided to share them here with anyone who wished to use them. The banner at this link is for Riḍván; the one at this link is for the Twin Holy Days. Enjoy, and if you post a picture of them on social media, please tag me (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook), I would love to see them in action!