This week my daughter is celebrating her 10th birthday, although this birthday will be only the 4th one she’s celebrated in the country where she was born. As a third-culture kid (a TCK) she’s already had a chance to have her special day in Brazil, Argentina, and Russia — each celebration being very different from the others. And so, as we prepare for yet another party, I am thinking of differences in the meaning of birthdays and in birthday celebrations around the world. Not just for kids — for adults too.
The country where I grew up (Russia) one’s birthday is a very important occasion and that importance isn’t reserved for children only. Adults treasure their birthdays and celebrate them yearly in circles of their family and friends. An interesting fact is that when you decide to celebrate your birthday with co-workers, it is you, who is responsible for bringing a cake to share. My husband, an American, always found that a bit odd.
In the US birthdays are a lot less of a big deal for adults. Your family may or may not call you on your birthday and, even if they live far away but happen to be close on that special day, they won’t always come and spend the day with you. But in a different tradition from Russia, in the US your co-workers will treat you to lunch and your friends will treat you to dinner.
What meaning does your culture attach to birthdays? And how have you celebrated your birthdays (or your kids’ birthdays) in different countries? Please share!
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