Birthdays, saints’ days, and developmental milestones are marked with celebrations throughout the world. Anyone who is tired of throwing the same old parties should consider using other traditions from the countries below:
England: Happy birthday! Tell the future by baking several small items into a cake. The person who chooses a certain object is said to grow up possessing those traits. For example, a book could represent wisdom, a mirror could signify beauty, weights could stand in for strength, and a flower could mean caring.
South Korea: Saeng il chuk ha ham ni da! The South Korean tradition is similar to the English one, except the items are laid out on a table and traditionally selected by a baby. A pencil means being a good student, a ruler means the person will be good with his/her hands, a thread means living a long life, and money means riches. As another option, these types of objects could be placed in gift bags. Each guest could select a bag and discover what the future holds.
Norway: Gratulere Med Daged! Guests go fishing for a special treat. Tape or glue a piece of string to an ice cream sandwich, popsicle, fudge bar, etc. and place the treats in a tub with the strings hanging over the edge. Each child chooses a string and pulls up a frozen treat.
Israel: Yom Holedet Sameach! Make someone special feel like a king or queen. Seat the child in a chair and have two to four adults raise the child and chair up and down for each year of age. Include an extra boost for good luck. In some countries the custom is to forego the chair and pick the child up like with crowd-surfing.
Mexico: Feliz Cumpleanos! Fill a piñata with candy, blindfold the person turning another year older, and let him/her beat the piñata until the candy falls out. To avoid arguments and unhappy guests, make sure that everyone is able to get some candy, or have extra on hand just in case.
Russia: Sdnyom rozhdenya! Bake a birthday pie instead of a cake and carve a special greeting into the crust. If the guests are old enough, they can add messages to individual crusts, share them during the party, and then eat their pies after they are baked. Frosting cookies with well wishes could be an alternative.
No matter how a birthday is celebrated, it deserves to be a special event. Sharing the occasion with a large group of family and friends makes the gathering even sweeter.