Last September 8, we celebrated the birthday of Mary in the shrine. In that blog, I mentioned that despite the yearly celebration of Mary in Catholic churches around the world, Mary probably never celebrated her own birthday during her lifetime. The reason being that during the time of Mary, as in any other Mediterranean societies of ancient times, the birth of a girl is a non-event inasmuch as the birth of a boy is a call for a big feast and celebration. Moreover, there was no such thing as a yearly celebration of one’s birthday during Mary’s time.
But how about not knowing your own birthday. Do you know that there are people who even do not know their own birthday?
In the Sarnelli Center, the shrine’s center for street children, it is not uncommon to encounter kids whom we pluck out from the streets who did not even know their own birthday. Being thrown out of their homes voluntarily or involuntarily at a tender age when others are still enjoying their lives as toddlers, they did not know the basic facts about their own lives let alone knowing the day of their birth.
Now, it has always been a tradition in the center to have a monthly celebration for all birthday kids celebrants. Just like a typical children’s birthday party, there is a birthday cake, an ice cream and spaghetti. There are balloons and all the kids sing a hearty happy birthday before they dive into the food.
For those street kids who did not know their birthday, they were given the opportunity to choose a date for their birthday. Some chose Christmas day, other chose September 8, birthday of Mother Mary or any other day they may like. This, I guess, is the advantage of not knowing your birthday; you can choose whatever day you like as your birthday.
Despite not knowing their birthday, these kids were given the opportunity to celebrate their birthdays, only God knows, when it is. In this way, they experience the same joy of celebrating their birthday and having the same sense of dignity like any other normal kid.
For more information about Sarnelli Center for Street Children please visit our website. If you want to volunteer at Sarnelli Center for Street Children please go to our volunteers’ page. If you want to donate to Sarnelli Center for Street Children please go to our donate page.
Joey Echano, CSsR