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Planting a birth tree, a little known tradition

As a new mama, I’m thinking about the traditions I can build for our little family. Holidays. Birthdays. Sunday mornings. Traditions keep a family together.

I’ve been thinking back to my family’s traditions, and one of my favorites is the cedar tree my mom planted in honor of my birth. Strong, constant and resistant to drought, the incense cedar embodies characteristics my parents saw in me at a very early age.

A beautiful incense cedar.

Throughout my childhood, I thought of the cedar as “my” tree. We took pictures of me in front of it, hugging it. I watched it grow – at first it was bigger than me, then there was a stage where I stood taller than it, and then before too long it towered over me.  In the summer, I loved to sit in its shade and picnic, and in the winter, I loved to clip branches to decorate for Christmas.

Unfortunately, because of a forest fire that destroyed my childhood home, the tree no longer stands, nor do we have photos of it. Another story for another day. But I can picture it in my mind, its deep green branches and mahogany brown, spicy smelling bark.

I loved my birth tree, and want to pass down the tradition to my children. Joe and I have been talking about what tree to plant for Baby G in the backyard of our new home. It’s one of the first home projects we plan to complete upon moving in.

Because Baby G was born on January 1, we want a tree that will be attractive in the winter (we’re planning ahead for annual birthday photographs). It doesn’t necessarily have to be an evergreen, but we want it to at least have some interesting bark throughout the cold months. Maybe a white birch or poplar?

We also want it to stand for some of the traits we see in her. Traits that when she is uncertain or insecure we can remind her of the unwavering tree that stands in her honor, and perhaps she can draw strength from it.

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A white birch in the summer.

That said, we also need it to grow well in central coast California. It would be pretty sad to have to explain to Baby G why her birth tree shriveled up and died.  We’re in luck because a lot of beautiful plants, both native and imported, thrive in this area.

Did you know that we all have birth trees, just as we have birthstones? Well we do – as I just learned myself – and according to ancient Celtic tradition, Baby G is the apple tree.

But I also have a fondness for the gorgeous, summer blooming crepe myrtle. Crepe myrtles are the southern belle of any garden, which I think fits nicely with Baby G’s name and personality.

A blooming crepe myrtle.

A blooming crepe myrtle.

Planting a birth trees is kind of a little-known tradition, but to me, that’s what makes it special. It also can help instill in children a love and respect for nature, something that is very important to me as a mother.

What do you think of the birth tree tradition? Have you done it yourself, or do you plan to? Do you have suggestions for the perfect birth tree for our little one?

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7 Comments

  1. Robin Gelsinger on October 16, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    My grandparents planted a pine tree in honor of the birth of my aunt. We were in the USAF so my parents couldn’t keep it going.

    • creatingmom on October 16, 2013 at 3:41 pm

      That’s cool to hear that people have been doing it for several generations though. I should ask my mom where she got the idea. I’ve heard that it’s a Jewish tradition, but I couldn’t find enough information on the Web to validate that.

  2. Lauren Markman on October 17, 2013 at 7:30 am

    My grandfather planted birth trees for all 10 of his children. It is a beautiful idea. Wasn’t the Giving Tree an apple tree? It could be a lovely tie in for your daughter if you keep her birth tree an apple tree.

  3. Paula W on October 18, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    I love this! I had a similar idea once of planting a tree every year as a family, no matter where we live… so that we can help the environment and have it represent what the year meant to us. So in 100 years you would have a whole forest worth, all over the country. Or if you live in the same house forever and have a bit of space, you have a whole forest to pass onto your grandkids. But your way is much more realistic: just do one for each kid. <3

    • creatingmom on October 18, 2013 at 8:02 pm

      That’s a really cool thought. Even if you move around, you’re still doing a a good thing for the world by planting a tree, and what a cool value to instill in your kids. Trees are the best.

  4. Lisa Nelson on October 21, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    What a lovely tradition. Actually ,we were going to do this, and then bury the placenta under the tree. However, I didn’t want to do it where we live, because it didn’t feel permanent to me. Alas, the placentas are still in the freezer (except for the one that I encapsulated) and the tree is not.

    However, we have a crape myrtle that is beautiful. My hubby bought it for our wood anniversary. It really is beautiful and harty!

    Thanks so much for this beautiful post and for linking up with us at the homeschoollinkup!

    • creatingmom on October 21, 2013 at 8:41 pm

      Hi Lisa, if you ever get around to doing it, let me know. I’d love to see pictures.
      What a cool gift for the wood anniversary. I think most people think wooden boxes, furniture, etc.

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