BIRTHDAY TRADITIONS AROUND THE WORLD

A F R I C A

Though every individual celebrates their birthdays with equal zeal and passion but the traditions involving their celebrations do differ according to their place of origin.

In Africa people celebrate the birth of a new born baby with immense enthusiasm. The Pygmies would sing out some popular birthday-songs dedicating to the child. According to traditions prevalent in Kenya, the mother of the new born takes the baby strapped to her back into a thorn enclosure where cattle are kept, where her husband accompanied by some village elders wait eagerly in order to confer a name upon the child.

The traditions in West Africa is however a bit different from that observed in Kenya, for after the baby is eight days old the mother takes the new born for its first walk in this big world, and friends and family are duly invited on this occasion in order to introduce the new member to the rest of the family and friends.

Many other African nations celebrate their birthdays according to their unique traditions, for instance many hold initiation ceremonies for groups of children instead of birthdays. When these children reach a certain designated age, they are then entitled to learn the laws, beliefs, customs, songs and dances of their respectivetribes.

Egyptians however prefer celebrating their birthdays with merriments and parties.They involve themselves in singing and dancing when their child completes a year of his/her lifecycle. Thus the party are usually complemented with lots of flowers and fruit which serve as d├ęcor of the party as well are symbolic of life and growth.

However the Ghana people celebrate their birthdays as per their respective traditions for the children wake up with a special treat called "oto" which is a patty made from mashed sweet potato and eggs fried in palm oil. In the later part of the day, the Ghana people arrange birthday party where they usually eat stew and rice and a special dish which is known as "kelewele" which is prepared from plantain chunks (similar to bananas). Moreover the Asante people in Ghana celebrate "krada" (which means "Soul Day") on their birthdays, thus on a person's krada, one wakes up early in the morning and washes themselves using a special leaf which is kept soaked overnight in water.This ritual has a symbolic connotation attached to it for this ritual is depicted as a cleaning activity, intended to purify ones inner soul. Soon after this ritual is observed, in the later part of the day a feast is arranged which is duly attained by family and friends when they come all dressed in order to shower their blessings.

However the children dwelling in Sudan cities do celebrate their birthdays whereas those living in the country-side, they prefer not to celebrate their birthdays. On the day of their birth, children usually drink a red punch named "karkady" which is made from hibiscus flower.

However many birthday traditions are associated with the African tribes as well. For some of the African tribes consider that as the children attain the age of children from nine to twelve, they are ready to be initiated into this grown up world. Thus they are entitled to carry out several tests.

According to the test, the Masai boys around thirteen to seventeen years old undergo a two stage initiation. As per the first stage of initiation which lasts for three months, the boys are entitled to leave their parents' homes, paint their bodies white, and then are taught how to become young warriors. Once this stage comes to an end, they have to have their heads shaved.

On completion of the first stage, as per the second stage, the young warriors grow their hair long and live in a camp called a "manyatta" where they practice hunting .This stage however lasts formany years. Once they are fully ready, they will marry and become owners of large cattle herds like their fathers.

The girls also need to go through this initiation stages once they are between fourteen to fifteen years of age. They are taught by the older ladies, the duties of marriage and how to care of their babies.



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