I love learning about customs and practices in other countries. For this post, I asked all of my friends in the Multicultural Kid Blogger group to give me their favorite birthday traditions! Birthdays are a time for celebration no matter where you live, and it was so fun to find out how other families celebrate their kids’ birthdays!
Australian birthdays are fun for friends and family. Some typical food that is served are: lamingtons (an Australian cake, made from squares of sponge cake coated in an outer layer of chocolate sauce and rolled in coconut), or fairy bread (buttered bread dipped in sugar sprinkles and cut into small triangles).
In Brazil, families decorate their houses with banners and colored paper flowers, or sometimes hold birthday parties in halls. There is often a table filled with sweets and snacks, like the traditional candy called brigadeiros. Guests always leave with lembrancinhas- a party gift bag.
The most special of the birthday traditions in China is for babies and for the very old. New parents give red eggs (an even number) to friends and family for good luck. Common presents include food, silverware, and money wrapped in red paper. On birthdays, it is common to eat longevity noodles without breaking them for good luck to live a long life.
Egyptian like to invite many people to their birthday parties! Often they have two birthday cakes: one cake with candles. They often decorate their home with garlands called zeena that look like chains of snowflakes. A special birthday for Egyptian children is when they are one week old. The sebou is for people to come and see the baby, carry candles, and bring flowers and fruit as symbols of life and growth. They celebrate again when the child is 1 year old. Parties can be small with close friends and family or be a huge celebration!
In birthday parties in France at tea-time: le goûter is 100% sweet. with special store-bought cakes. Instead of organized games, at kids’ parties in France they enjoy regular free play. Guests sing joyeux anniversaire:
Kinderfeste, or birthday parties in Germany, started in 1200 AD. Parents like to wake up their children with cake and birthday candles. The candles stay lit until after dinner, and then children make a wish and blow them out. For German parties, make sure to arrive on time, and leave when the invitation says it will end.
In Ghana, one of the most common birthday traditions is that kids get to eat oto for breakfast: sweet potatoes mixed with onions, made into patties, and fried with hard boiled eggs. Later in the day, Ghanaians sometimes have a party for the child with stew, rice, and kelewele. At the party, girls often like to play a game called ampe.
Ancient Greece might have been the culture to make the first birthday cake, to honor goddess Artemis. They put candles on the cake to glow like the moon, and the smoke would carry wishes to heaven. Now birthday parties in Greece are big events, with lots of food, lots of games, and lots of guests.
Traditionally, birthdays in India were celebrated with a tikka (meat) and a small pooja (honoring the child). Now there is a trend towards elaborate celebrations with theme parties and entertainers. Guests bring presents for the child to the party. On birthdays, kids don’t have to wear their school uniforms, and the child gives chocolates to kids at school to celebrate.
Sometimes children in Israel wear a crown made from leaves or flowers for their birthday. The birthday child sits in a chair, and gets picked up and raised and lowered the chair one time for each year of age, plus one more for good luck. Guests at the birthday party sing and dance around the chair. At birthday parties, kids often play games, such as races with potatoes on spoons.
100 days after their baby’s birth, Koreans celebrate their child’s 1st year dol. A special ceremony is planned to bless the child and begin to look to the future. One of the special birthday traditions in Korea is that parents pick 5-6 items that they will present to their child at the beginning of the party, that represent future lifestyles or careers. Some families honor Samshin Halmoni, the grandmother spirit, by giving her offerings of rice and seaweed soup to thank her for caring for their infant. Birthday celebrations include rice cakes, and black and red bean cakes sweetened with sugar or honey.
Mexico families love parties, and celebrate birthdays en grande. The 15th birthday, quinceañera is the most important, formal, and elaborate. We always sing Las Mañanitas to wake up the child on their birthdays. When the birthday girl or boy blows out their candles, guests call for them to take a bite of the cake (“mordida-mordida!”) and always push their face into the frosting. A Mexican birthday party always has a piñata filled with little toys and candies.
Birthdays are a really big deal in the Netherlands, and one of the customary birthday traditions to congratulate everyone (the parents, the friends, the neighbors), not just the birthday child. In the party everyone sits in chairs which form a circle. The Dutch birthday song is “Lang zal hij leven:”
In Poland, the song goes, “Sto lat, sto lat, niech żyje żyje nam” (hundred years, hundred years, may they live”). At a birthday party at your home, called a prywatki, everyone enjoys a homemade cake and socializes. Some families in Poland might have imieniny, which are parties that celebrate their saint’s feast day. Expect lots of cards, gifts, and flowers.
In The Philippines, a child’s 1st, 7th, and 18th birthdays are particularly special, and some parents throw lavish birthdays. Birthdays might begin with a mass. For Filipinos, birthdays are a time to honor a person and their life, and to give thanks to God for the gift of being alive. Kids are showered with gifts and love! Eating pancit (noodles) for longevity is another Filipino tradition.
Birthdays for kids in Peru are a fun event with entertainers and food. Parties are informal, and entire families are invited to celebrate. Guests are often given goodie bags when they leave. A common song that is sung to the tune of Happy Birthday to you!
Sapo Verde Tuyu
Sapo Verde Tuyu
Sapo Verde eres tuuuuuu
Sapo Verde Tuyu
Which country’s birthday traditions did I miss? Please let me know in the comments so I can add them here!