Dimensie just turned 19, which means that Dimensie is in their final year of teenage life. On the 16th of March we celebrated Dimensie’s birthday in a typical COVID-proof way, online. It is always fun to see several cultures coming together and celebrating a birthday, especially when it is in a completely new environment. But how would we have celebrated the birthday of Dimensie in all these different cultures in the years BC* and, hopefully, AC**?
A Dutch way of celebrating birthdays:
In the Netherlands we would have celebrated Dimensie’s birthday by coming together, sitting in a circle, celebrating everyone with Dimensie’s birthday and talking together. It is a typical tradition during a Dutch birthday celebration to congratulate everyone separately with the birthday persons birthday. However, if you are smart you just enter the room and say “everybody congratulations with (the birthday person’s name)”. In that way, you do not have to congratulate everyone separately and it is almost socially accepted.
A German way of celebrating birthdays:
In Germany, the birthday person, or “Geburtstagskind” (Birthday child) as Germans use to say, is responsible for basically everything; they have to bring the cake and throw a party, or at least have to pay for the first round of drinks if they meet up with their friends in a bar. In return, they’ll get the first piece of cake and of course some presents. If the birthday person wants to cheer with their friends, they have to look each other in the eyes, for good luck (There is also a superstition that you will have seven years of bad sex in case you don’t maintain eye contact). The most important thing: Never ever bring early birthday wishes or presents before the actual birthday, that will bring bad luck!
An American way of celebrating birthdays:
In the States, we love a good birthday. Mostly, the birthdays of children are the most celebrated ones yet. It’s all about themes! Take a princess themed birthday party as example. Everyone who is invited is expected to dress up as a princess and their parents dress up too, and also stay for the party. A very important element of course is the food, which has to be according to the theme as well. Mostly moms spend two days in the kitchen making a couple dozen cone shaped cakes. These cakes are decorated and turned into princess hats. The entire day (yes really the whole day) is filled with activities, from outside games to arts and crafts. In the States, the birthdays really are “go big or go home”.
A Chinese way of celebrating birthdays:
In China it is very unusual for the birthday person to do something. In China, others organize your party. The birthday person does not have to do anything.
A Vietnamese way of celebrating birthdays:
In Vietnam, everyone celebrates their birthday on the same day, New Year’s Day. They also call this day “Tet”. This can be different in areas that have a heavy influence of our Western Culture. However, in the other non-Western influenced areas, it is usual to not celebrate your birthday on the actual date of birth, but on Tet.
So as you can see, birthdays can be celebrated in many different ways, even more than mentioned above. However, there is one thing that they all have in common. It is a day of joy, happiness, and celebration of life. So never forget, enjoy life! Celebrate life as if your life is depending on it! And last but certainly not least, be happy!