Happy Birthday!

Jess Rogers, Staff Writer

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I wake up, my parents sing to me, and they give me presents. My little sister rolls out of bed eventually and mumbles “oh yeah, Happy Birthday”. As I go about my day, I let everybody know that it’s the day I was born and that they should be nice and grateful for my existence. That evening, we eat cake and then play games and relax for the rest of the night. The following weekend after my birthday, my grandma, aunt, uncle, and cousins come over to celebrate. It’s been the same tradition every single year since I was a baby, and at 18, I would not want it any other way. Not everyone celebrates birthdays the same as I do, and not everybody follows the same tradition every year.

Most Americans celebrate their birthdays the same – cake, presents, and a party. Some other countries celebrate exactly this way, just with a little twist. In Mexico, one of their most popular traditions is very well-known and practiced in America – the Piñata! Adults will hang the prize-filled decoration before the birthday boy or girl. He or she is then blindfolded, given a stick, and told to hit it as hard as they can to knock it open (hopefully being extra aware of surroundings).  In Hungary, the celebration is very similar to America’s, but following the opening of presents, the birthday child can expect every birthday party attendant to tug on his or her earlobes while singing “God bless you, may you live long so your ears can reach your ankles”.

Though some countries keep it generally the same with a little extra celebration, others take things to a whole new level. In Jamaica, birthdays are celebrated by having the birthday boy or girl’s whole body covered in copious amounts of flour by friends, family, and even random observers. On the Atlantic side of Canada, birthday children are sometimes “ambushed” and their noses are greased, usually with butter, to ward off bad luck. In Ireland, the birthday child is hung upside down and is “bumped” on the floor, once for every year of their age plus one for good luck – needless to say, as an eighteen-year-old, I’m glad this tradition isn’t practiced in America. In Vietnam, everyone celebrates their birthday on the New Year’s Day, or Tet, not on the actual day they were born. This allows a person to share his or her birthday celebration with an entire nation on Tet, and add one year to his or her age regardless of what it is chronologically. Lastly, the scariest tradition of them all occurs in Switzerland. Some parents will hire an evil looking clown who will proceed to stalk and torment the birthday boy or girl before finishing with a pie in the face for good luck – this is enough to make a child hate the day they were born.

After hearing of some of the unusual traditions from some countries, it is relieving to know that most countries keep birthdays mellow. Anna Fufacheva, who resides in Germany, said that they don’t do anything too extravagant. “It’s the same [as America]”, she said. Tiffany Milosav, daughter of two Romanian immigrants, said “There’s not a lot we do for birthdays. It’s not a very big celebration. We bake our own special cake, but the presents and the rest are just like the U.S.”.

No matter how they are celebrated, birthdays are important. After all, it is the anniversary of the first day of your life! Though birthdays become more dreadful as you age, it’s always great to accomplish another year around the sun. If you’re not one to celebrate your birthday, make sure to do so in the future. It’s your special day and it only comes once a year. Treat yourself!