- "And did you complete the Padawan birthday ritual? Only by remembering the past are we able to learn from the present."
- ―Master Qui-Gon Jinn, to his Padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi
The Padawan birthday ritual was a Jedi tradition in the last years of the Galactic Republic. Taking place on a Padawan's thirteenth birthday, the apprentice would reflect on the past and receive a special gift from his or her Master. In 44 BBY, Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi took part in the ritual; the young apprentice failed to find the time for the reflection portion and was initially dismayed by his Master's choice of what appeared to be a simple rock as a gift, but he later came to value the stone after he learned that it was Force-sensitive. Fifteen years later, Kenobi's own apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, would take part; Kenobi regifted the stone to his Padawan, who immediately appreciated it.
- "Are you sure? This was given to you by Qui-Gon."
"He would want you to have it, as I do. It is my most treasured possession. I hope it will be with you always to remind you of Qui-Gon and me, of our deep regard for you."
"I'll treasure it. Thank you, Master."
- ―Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi
The Padawan birthday ritual was a tradition observed by members of the Jedi Order during the later years of the reign of the Galactic Republic. Practiced by Padawans on their thirteenth birthday, the ritual entailed quiet reflection on their past, meditating on positive memories as well as bad ones, in lieu of a birthday celebration. According to Master Qui-Gon Jinn, one needed to reflect on past events to learn from current ones. Additionally, the Padawan would receive a gift from his or her Master, who often considered the gift for several weeks or even months and sometimes traveled long distances to obtain it. Example gifts included healing crystals, cloaks from the planet Pasmin known for their seeming lack of weight, or special lightsaber hilts.
- "I'm glad of one thing, Padawan. You have held on to your memories."
"Your river stone helped me. I did not realize the stone was Force-sensitive. I should have known you would have given me something of great value."
- ―Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi
In 44 BBY, following the completion of a mission to the planet Bandomeer, Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi was unable to find time to complete the reflection portion of the ritual. His Master, Jinn, nearly forgot about Kenobi's birthday and gave his apprentice a stone taken from the River of Light on Jinn's home planet before gently chiding him about his failure to complete the ritual. Kenobi was disappointed in the choice of gift, feeling that the trust that he thought he had received from Jinn on the previous mission was not there. However, during the next mission on the planet Phindar, Kenobi was captured by the Syndicat, the ruling criminal organization, and sentenced to have all of his memories erased. While awaiting the carrying out of this sentence, Kenobi began to regret not completing the reflection and meditation exercise, but then he discovered that the stone he had been given was Force-sensitive and was able to use the power of the stone to resist the mind wipe. After the mission, he appreciated the gift much more for that quality, and it would eventually become his most valued possession, so much so that his friend Bant Eerin sewed a pocket in his tunic for him so that he could hold it near his heart.
Kenobi eventually gained Jedi Knighthood himself and took Anakin Skywalker as a Padawan. Fifteen years after receiving the river stone from Jinn, on the day that Skywalker turned thirteen, Kenobi passed the rock on to his own apprentice, knowing that his former Master would want him to pass it on. Skywalker was much more appreciative of the present than Kenobi originally had been, as he knew that it had originally come from Jinn, who had rescued him from slavery and brought him to the Jedi Temple to be trained three years earlier but died before he could begin Skywalker's training himself.
Behind the scenes
The Padawan birthday ritual was created by author Jude Watson for the third book in her young readers Jedi Apprentice series, titled The Hidden Past, which depicted Obi-Wan Kenobi's thirteenth birthday and the events immediately following. The sixth book in the series, The Uncertain Path, mentioned Kenobi's birthday gift in passing without adding any new information about the ritual. Anakin Skywalker's thirteenth birthday gift was shown in a flashback in The Way of the Apprentice, book number one in the Jedi Quest series, which was also written by Watson. Skywalker's gift was later mentioned in the fifth Jedi Quest book, The School of Fear, though it did not directly mention the ritual itself, and, like The Uncertain Path, introduced no new details about it. Finally, the release of The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia saw both changes of possession of the river stone mentioned in the entry for the River of Light.
- Jedi Apprentice: The Hidden Past (First appearance)
- Jedi Apprentice: The Uncertain Path (Mentioned only)
- Jedi Quest: The Way of the Apprentice (In flashback(s))
- Jedi Quest: The School of Fear (Indirect mention only)
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, Vol. III ("River of Light")