Celebrating Birthdays



Balloons and streamers are a must for a birthday party in America. The birthday cake is topped with lighted candles corresponding to the person's age. It is believed that if a person makes a wish and blows all the candles out in one breath, the wish will come true.



People here pull the earlobe of the birthday boy or girl for each year of his or her life. When girls turn 15 they have a huge party and dance the waltz with their father and other boys.



Australian children have a special dish on their birthday called 'fairy bread'. This buttered bread is covered with tiny sprinkles known as 'hundreds' and 'thousands'.



Children usually eat fruit and vegetable shaped candies on their birthday. Festive banners and bright-coloured flowers are used to decorate the house. Brazilians also pull on the earlobes of the birthday boy or girl for each year of his or her life.



It is an old English custom to mix certain symbolic objects like coins and thimbles in the birthday cake while it is being prepared. People believe that whoever gets the coin will be wealthy, while the unlucky finder of the thimble will never marry.



Greasing the nose with butter or margarine is a common practice among Canadians. The birthday child’s nose is greased for good luck with the thought that the greased nose makes it too slippery for bad luck to catch on. This tradition can be traced back to Scottish practices. In Quebec the birthday person receives a punch for each year along with one extra for good luck.



When a Chinese girl or boy turns a year old, it's a special event. A variety of objects and toys such as dolls, coins and books are placed on the floor around the child. According to ancient beliefs, the object that the child picks up first symbolizes his or her pursuit in life. In China, people believe that tigers protect children. Family members bring newborns special food and present them with gifts or toys decorated with tigers. Giving a clock as a birthday gift is considered unlucky.



A flag is flown outside the window to designate that it's the birthday of someone living in the house. Presents are placed beside the bed in such a way that the child wakes up to find them. Round birthdays such as 20, 30 and 40 are celebrated grandly.



Birthday parties here are all about song, dance, fun and frolic. Flowers and fruits are used to decorate the party as symbols of life and growth.



A girl's 15th birthday is celebrated well. She wears a dress with high heels and dances the waltz with her father. 14 girls and boys also dance the waltz.



The house is decorated and a wooden birthday wreath is placed on the dining table. The wreath contains small holes for candles and a holder in the centre where a tall candle is placed. A member of the family lights the candles at sunrise and it is kept burning all day long. The birthday boy or girl blows out the candles that night. This is followed by the unwrapping of presents and a party.



Children wake up to a special treat of 'oto', a patty prepared from mashed sweet potato and eggs fried in palm oil. Celebrations are wound up with a birthday party. The people of south-central Ghana or the Asante people celebrate 'krada', which means 'soul day', on their birthday. The first thing they do on waking up is to cleanse themselves using a special leaf soaked in water overnight. It is similar to a ritual intended to purify the inner soul.



The fifth, 10th, 15th, 20th and 21st birthdays are called 'crown years'. The birthday child receives an exceptionally large gift on a crown year birthday. Children eat pancakes sprinkled with powdered sugar and taarties served with lemonade or hot chocolate.



The birthday boy or girl usually wears new clothes and seeks the blessings of his or her parents and elders by touching their feet. Many even visit a shrine and offer prayers.



The birthday child is lifted upside down and bumped on the floor for good luck. The birthday child receives as many bumps as his or her age with one extra for good luck. On the 21st birthday, the birthday boy or girl is handed over a key. This is considered an important sign of coming of age in Ireland.



The birthday child wears a crown made from leaves or flowers and sits in a chair decorated with streamers, which is lifted by the parents. The guests dance around the chair. The Bar Mitzvah is celebrated after the 13th birthday for Jewish boys and the Bat Mitzvah is celebrated after the 12th birthday for Jewish girls. The Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah mark the child's acceptance of observing the commandments as a responsible member of the Jewish community.



The third, fifth and seventh birthday are a lot more special than others. During these special birthdays, people participate in the Shichi-go-san Festival or the Seven-Five-Three Festival celebrated annually on November 15. Children visit shrines along with their families and pray for their health and strength.



The mother straps her one-year-old child to her back and carries the baby through a thorn enclosure used to keep cattle. The husband and the villagers wait on the other end then baptise the child.



The 100th day after a child's birth is also known as Paegil and a small feast is held to celebrate this day rather than the actual birthday. Family, relatives and friends celebrate the day by cooking delicacies like rice cakes and red and black bean cakes sweetened with sugar or honey. It is a popular belief that if these rice cakes are shared with 100 people, it results in a long life for the child. Those receiving these rice cakes return the vessels with pieces of thread expressing their hope of longevity and with rice and money symbolising prosperity. People also place red bean cakes at the four compass points within the house to prevent disaster and bring the child luck and happiness.



A garland is hung around the entire door of the home of the birthday person. The birthday person sits in a decorated chair and family members lift him or her up thrice.



Family members and friends gather together to enjoy birthday celebrations. The child is gifted with an 'ang-bao', which is a small red packet filled with money.



A pinata (pronounced pin-yata) is made out of paper mache in the form of an animal. This is filled with goodies and hung from the ceiling. The birthday child is blindfolded and is required to hit the pinata until it cracks open. People believe that the child who breaks open the pinata will have good luck.



A mixture of rice, yoghurt and colour is placed on the birthday child's forehead for good luck.



After the birthday cake is lit, the 'Happy Birthday' song is sung loudly. It is a tradition in New Zealand to hand over the keys of the house, which shows that a person is growing older.



Children here dance in front of their class with a friend while the rest of the students sing a ‘Happy Birthday’ song. Norway's national flag is also displayed outside the home of a birthday person. On the birthdays of important people, the streets in Norway are decorated with flags.



Guests at a birthday party receive two kinds of favours, which are called 'recordatorio' which means 'souvenir'. While the first favour is a goody box or bag, the second is a pin made in honour of the event.



Early on the day of the birthday, the family goes to a shrine or temple. Birthday cakes of various shapes and sizes are baked. Celebratory decorations include noodles representing long life, along with balloons and pinatas.



Instead of a birthday cake, many Russian children receive a birthday pie with a birthday greeting carved into the crust.



A pound note is given for every year old the child is plus an additional pound for good luck. Being given the key to the house is considered an important sign of growing older in Scotland.



On their birthday, children usually drink a red punch called 'karkady', which is made from hibiscus flowers.



Similar to the Norwegian people, the Swedes use their national flag for decoration. The birthday cakes are similar to pound cake and are decorated with marzipan.



Everybody's birthday is celebrated on New Years day. 'Tet' is the name for the first morning of the New Year. On the morning of Tet, parents, siblings, relatives and close friends congratulate children on becoming a year older by presenting them with red envelopes that contain money or lucky money. This is also called 'li xi'.



Albanian: Urime ditelindjen!

Danish: Tillykke med fodselsdagen!

Farsi: Tavalodet mobarak!

Finnish: Hyvaa syntymapaivaa!

French: Joyeux anniversaire!

Greek: Efticharismena gennethlia!

Gujarati: Janma divas mubarak!

Hawaiian: Hau`oli la hanau!

Italian: Buon compleanno!

Japanese: Otanjou-bi omedetou gozaimasu!

Malaysian: Selamat hari jadi!

Nepali: Janma dhin ko subha kamana!

Oriya: Janmadina abhinandan!

Rajasthani: Janam ghaanth ri badhai, khoob jeeyo!

Romanian: La multi ani!

Sanskrit: Ravihi janmadinam aacharati!

Spanish: Feliz cumpleanos!

Sri Lankan: Suba upan dinayak vewa!

Tamil: Piranda naal vaazhthukkal!

Telugu: Janmadina subha kankshalu!

Thai: Suk san wan keut!

Urdu: Janam din mubarak