I’m 31. But when I was of bilingual birdie age my mom used to throw the best birthday parties for me. On a budget of course, but each year seemed to have topped the next. Once we even had a backyard carnival complete with face painting by our neighbor, bobbing for apples from the Iranian market, a tie-dye shirt making station, and a handmade piñata. That year, I was officially on the map! Friends were talking about that party honoring my 5th spin around the sun for months to come.
A birthday can truly be a special ceremonious time when you are a child (and frankly, I believe in the beauty of going all out even while on the 3rd floor and way beyond). It’s a time to give yourself a solid pat on the back for beating the odds and making it yet another 365 days on this glorious planet. When you’re a baby bird they celebrate you in magnificent ways – cupcakes in your preschool class, dinner wherever you want, field trip with friends to the happiest place you can imagine. And when you grow up, you sometimes get a house party in your best friend’s loft in Williamsburg with a live cumbia band, beautifully cooked dinner by your NY foodie friends, and a flamenco dancer destroying the wood floors to the sounds of your cajon (a Peruvian percussion instrument). If you’re wise you call 1-800-flowers and send a little something to your parents.
From quinceañeras to bar mitzvahs, different cultures have such incredibly vibrant ways of marking this time in life. One day I’ll achieve my dream of a yearlong sabbatical traveling around the world, stops guided by specific cultural celebrations on globe. I will be sure to get invited to some birthday parties. Check out some preliminary research below.
Chinese Birthday Traditions – When a Chinese child turns one year old, it is a very important event. The parents might tell the baby’s fortune by placing the baby in the center of a group of objects (such as coins, a doll, a book, etc.) and they wait to see which object the baby picks up. If the baby picked up a coin, he/she may be rich, if the baby reached for a book he/she may become a teacher, if the baby reached for the doll he/she may have many children, etc. The sixth birthday is also a special birthday for the Chinese. For the party itself, friends and relatives are invited for lunch and extra-long noodles are served to wish the birthday child a long life.
Nepalese Birthday Traditions – A certain mixture of rice yogurt and color is placed on the birthday child’s forehead for good luck.
Danish Birthday Traditions – In Denmark, presents are placed around the child’s bed while they are sleeping so that they will see them immediately when waking up. Also, a flag is flown outside a window to designate that someone living in that house is having a birthday.
Nigerian Birthday Traditions – In Nigeria the 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th birthdays are considered extremely special events. On these birthdays they have huge parties which have up to 100 guests or more. On their birthdays they have a feast consisting of an entire roasted cow or goat. They also serve a dish called “jollof rice” which is rice with tomatoes, red peppers, and onions plus cassava which is similar to sweet potato.
Peruvian Birthday Traditions – In Peru, guests at a birthday party might receive two kinds of party favors. These are called “recordatorio”, which means souvenir. The first favor is a goody box or bag and the second is a pin made in honor of the event. These pins are so elaborate that some children might collect them. At these parties children almost always receive fancy paper hats.
Win a FREE Bilingual Birdies Birthday Party! Enter the HAPPY PHOTO CONTEST! All entries get $50 off all birthday party packages, and best pic gets a FREE bday party! 1. Write “HAPPY” in any language (be creative!) 2. Show what makes you happy 3. Snap a pic and share it (with the word) on FB or Instagram and hashtag #bilingualbirdies #happy so we can see it! HAVE FUN! Winner chosen MAY 24th! Sing along to the deets here.
FYI: Our Bilingual Birdies Birthday Parties are pretty awesome, I must say. Live music guitar and percussion in your home serenading your guests and making your kid shine like a star. Need to impress the in-laws flying in from their home country? The answer is to get our bilingual musicians into your living room to transform the day into a magical inter-generational celebration in your language. Select from Spanish, French, Mandarin, Hebrew or English. We even throw in our CDs for the birdies to take home as party favors. Happy happy!