What do you usually do on your birthday? If you live in North America, you probably have a birthday cake, and your friends and family probably sing “Happy Birthday.” Maybe you celebrate with balloons, a party, or a special outing.
 
Whatever your family traditions are, birthdays are fun to celebrate. Here are a few birthday traditions from other countries:
 
Ireland
The birthday child is lifted upside down and gently “bumped” on the floor for good luck. For example, if it’s your eighth birthday, you will be bumped eight times.
 
Russia
Instead of birthday cake, children might receive a birthday pie with a special greeting carved into the crust. 
 
Ecuador
Children sometimes receive phone calls or cards on their actual birthday, but they are more likely to have a celebration on the day of the saint they are named after. Raisin cake, fancy cookies, and hot chocolate are the usual birthday treats.
 
China
The tradition in China is that babies are already one year old when they are born. A big celebration is held when a child turns six years old. Friends and relatives are invited to lunch, where noodles are served to wish the birthday boy or girl a long life. The longest the noodles are considered to be lucky.
 
Brazil
Children eat candies shaped and colored to look like real fruit and vegetables. Brazilians pull on the earlobes of the birthday boy or girl, once for each year of their age.
 
Holland
The family decorates the birthday child’s chair with flowers, streamers, and balloons at the dining room table.
 
Lithuania
A garland is hung around the entire door of the home, so that everyone passing by knows that a member of the household is celebrating a birthday. 
 
New Zealand
After the birthday candles are lit, the birthday song is sung loudly, quite often out of tune. If you reach the age of 21 and are still living with your parents, you would be considered old enough to stay out as long as you like.
 
Ghana
A special birthday breakfast in Ghana would include patties made from mashed sweet potatoes along with fried eggs. Later in the day the family and friends might have a feast to honor the birthday person. 
 
Whether it is your birthday, or whether you are helping someone else celebrate, be sure to do your part to make it a happy day for everyone involved.

                                                                                              --Nancy Kyte