What is your birthday tradition?
In Switzerland apparently, the custom is for parents to hire an evil clown for their child’s birthday, both to look terrifying and to follow and torment the birthday celebrant around before putting a pie in their face for good luck. (Sean “Diddy” Combs would have hated that!) There’s earlobe pulling in Hungary and flour thrown in your face in the Caribbean.
The Intercultural Approach: Ask First
I hoped framing it as an intercultural subject (I’m at the SIETAR Europa conference–The Society of Intercultural Educators, Researchers, and Trainers) would be a gratuitous excuse to tell everyone it’s my birthday…but good intercultural practice is still front and center. As in–don’t assume because you read something on the Internet it’s true. (Duh?) For example, I read twice that in Brazil the custom is to throw eggs on a person’s face first and then throw flour (number 4 in this list), but then I asked a “real Brazilian” (aka my husband), who had never heard of that tradition.
US Birthday Traditions
In the US, there are two primary camps: The ones who make birthdays into a two-week+ celebration and have no shame at all wearing the hat you brought them with the flashing “Happy Birthday” lights. And some prefer no attention at all or will even hide under the blankets for the whole day in a funk. I like to say “consider the alternative.”
I’m in the first camp, and possibly will call it a “birthday month.” I do assume my announcing my birthday is, culturally, very US American. In fact I met someone from Germany who said in Germany it is bad luck to wish someone Happy Birthday before the actual day. As an interculturalist, despite their concern, however, they adapted to my cultural expectations and said “Happy Birthday!”
Read more birthday traditions here. Note the word “weird” in the title is relative–meaning “different” than what the author celebrates–another Intercultural Tip…Your way is not “the right way,” but “a way.”
What’s your favorite thing to do on your birthday?