Friday, March 14, 2014

Castle Cakes and Saintly Names ~ Celebrating the Saints With Your Children

I wish I could remember the person who shared with me the idea of celebrating our children's names, (because I'm sure that I didn't come up with it on my own). I'd really like to thank her for being the one responsible for the reason why I get to eat cake 6 times more per year than the average parent. You should join me, really you should!
So, what was this great idea? It's the celebration of your child's name, through the remembrance of the saint that they share a name with.

Now, if you went through a special phase where, for reasons that you can't remember, naming your child Floyd or Optimus or Tonto sounded like a great idea, don't worry, you can still jump in on this party (who knows, they may become the first saint of their name)!

Over the years, when I've shared this fun way of incorporating the lives of the saints into real family life, some of my friends have asked how to do it if their children aren't named after saints. Simple! Have your child choose a saint that he/she admires.  They can "adopt" that saint, if you will, asking him/her to pray for them.  Then, when their special saint's feast day comes up on the calendar, it's time to celebrate! (Online resources for feast days and saint bios here and here.)

There are several truly wonderful books written on the lives of the saints for your kids to enjoy, and also a lot of poorly written and illustrated ones too, so be choosy! One of our favorites is Saints: Lives and Illuminations by Ruth Sanderson. She wrote a second volume as well, which is equally inspiring.
Our family's tradition is to bake a cake in the shape of a castle.  Then, we read about our child's saint, and talk about what it means to live a life of saintly virtue.  When our oldest was about four years old, he became fascinated with knights and kings. It seemed natural for us, then, to make a connection between saintly virtue and knighthood.

We found these three books to be a great way to encourage our boys toward chivalry, courage, generosity, sacrifice, service and perseverance - strong, admirable and virtuous behaviors of the saints!
As the older boys have outgrown these books, they have found a great selection of literary joys that inspire them to follow the path of virtue, including Sir Wyvern Pugilist's Dragon Slayers
They also truly love taking on the teacher role, being the ones who read to the younger boys, passing on what they have learned about striving toward a life of virtue.

Our boys really look forward to the remembrance of their special saint.  This is one tradition that I believe will have valuable, and lasting implications for our sons.  They even talking about passing the tradition on to their own kids!

Although I tailor everything we do around here to boys, since we haven't any girls (yet!), I think that this could easily be modified for girls, using the same castle mold and presenting the idea of what it means to be God's princess, discussing the virtues that the female saints heroically lived during their lifetime.
One thing I love about using the cake mold, is that I rarely ever do any decorating, and I always use a boxed cake mix, letting each child choose their favorite flavor.  Sometimes I dust on a little powdered sugar or drizzle on a simple glaze (it looks like icicles when it dries!).  It really is great enjoyed plain or served up with a scoop of your favorite ice cream.
I love this decorating idea for saints whose feast days fall during Christmas! 
A really simple and sweet way to decorate the castle for girls.
Good old powdered sugar never disappoints!

Do you have any celebratory traditions that you 
enjoy in honor of the saints?
Please share them with us!


  1. Great Blog! The pictures are so delectable to watch. I want to have a bite in all these cakes. It reminds of the cakes in this site

  2. We have that cake pan! And now I want to dig it out and use it.
    ps - such a lovely post, Susan, with lovely pictures.

  3. Susan- does it take 1 or 2 boxes of cake mix?? Thanks so much! Lovely idea

  4. Susan- does it take 1 or 2 boxes of cake mix?

    1. Hi Elise! I use just one cake mix, and I always add either 1 extra egg or 1/2 cup of sour cream or greek yogurt. It makes the cake more moist and dense. Also, most mixes call for water, and I always sub milk for the water. Good luck! :)


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