BIRTHDAY TRADITIONS AROUND THE WORLD

E U R O P E

Germany - In Germany, a children's birthday celebration is called a Geburtstagsparty. German children are never given any household chores or homework on their birthdays. 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 center where the lifecandle is placed. It is a tall and beautifully embellished candle. A member of the family lights the candles at sunrise. The candles are kept burning all day long. The birthdayboy or the girl blows off the candles after dinner that night. The wish of the person comes true if all the candles are blown out at one go. This is followed by the unwrapping of the presents and the party. There is however a very curious ritual among the Germans. When men reach the age of 30 and they still don't have a girlfriend that they have to sweep the stairs of the city hall. All there friends will throw rubble on the stairs and when you're finished they'll throw some more rubble there. This way every girl can see that this man reached the age of 30 and still doesn't have a girlfriend (and that he can clean a house very well!).

Britain - It is an old English custom to mix certain symbolic objects (coin and thimble) in the birthday cake while it is being prepared. People believed that the who got the coin would be wealthy, while the unlucky finder of the thimble would never marry. The drink squash which is an orange-flavored kool-aid made from syrup.

Ireland - In Ireland the birthday child is lifted upside down and "bumped" on the floor for good luck. The birthday child receives as many bumps as his age and one extra for good luck. Being handed over the key is considered an important sign of coming of age in Ireland. This takes place only when someone turns twenty one.

Holland - The 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, and 21st birthdays are called "crown" years. The birthday child receives an exceptionally large gift on a crown year birthday. Paper streamers, seasonal flowers, balloons and paper flowers. Children eat pancakes sprinkled with powdered sugar and taarties, served with lemonade or hot chocolate.

Lithuania - In Lithunia, 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 them up to three times.

Norway - Norwegian children 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.

Russia - Instead of a birthday cake, many Russian child receive a birthday pie with a birthday greeting carved into the crust. Children are given gifts by their teachers. Children usually play a game that features a clothesline and each guest gets to cut down a prize to take home. They have a birthday party either on their birthday or or on the weekend.

Denmark - In Denmark a flag is flown outside a window to designate that its 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. In Denmark, the celebration of "round" birthdays such as 20, 30, 40, etc. can boast an impressive guest list of sometimes hundreds of people.

Scotland - A pound note is given for every year old the child is plus an additional pound for good luck. A soft smack on the bottom is also given for each year. Being given the key to the house is still considered an important sign of coming of age in Scotland.

Sweden - Similar to the Danish and Norwegian people , the Swedes use their national flag for decoration. The Swedish children are served their breakfast in bed on their birthdays. The birthday cakes are similar to pound cake and are decorated with marzipan.



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