As birthdays go, this is certainly one of them. Every day is a birthday somewhere. For someone.
In America, we have certain traditions surrounding the birthday. There is the ubiquitous cake. It doesn’t really matter the flavor, size, shape, or the number of layers. Although, icing is a fairly standard measure, unless the Birthday-Bob strongly opposes it. Nonetheless, most people get a cake, or some form of sweet object of substitution.
The main thing is the ability to jam at least one candle in the aforementioned sweet treat or pastry. And then, the ability to light it. The candle. Not the cake.
After that comes a somewhat disharmonious rendition of the “Happy Birthday” Song which is performed by anyone standing around, caring enough to sing it.
And that. In a nutshell. Is the main birthday tradition in America. People get presents on their birthdays. And it seems, the younger you are, the more presents you get. I think with age comes skepticism, and we know that the presents are merely a clever system of distraction. From the aging thing.
One of my favorite presents came on my ninth birthday. A magic set. I put the rabbit in the hat and never successful extracted the little fellow. To this day, I ask every bunny I meet, “Are you the guy?”
Other countries around the world do things differently.
Take Jamaica (and other parts of the Caribbean). There, you can expect to have your whole body covered in copious amounts of flour. This is carried out by friends, family and random observers. I am not sure how this works, exactly. If there is a set time, and people show up, as you stand there, awaiting your flour. Or if you sit at your desk, typing away, and there are random acts of flouring. Either way. If there is a deep-fryer around, steer clear.
On to Europe. Now, I like Switzerland. But their birthday tradition is a little creep-ola. Parents hire an evil looking clown. Then, this clown lurks around. They stalk and torment the birthday boy or girl. At length. And finally, they finish the whole deal with a pie to the face for good luck. I think this classifies as cruel and unusual punishment. Creepy Clowns. I smell something funny.
On to the great UK. Specifically, Ireland. The ritual there is to hold the birthday person upside down. And then they bump his or her head on the floor. The “bump-ee” is supposed to get bumped once for each year of age. They say the practice becomes rarer as you get older. Or fatter, I’d imagine. Depending.
In Australia, you get Fairy Bread. I know it sounds very cool, but in truth, it is white bread and butter, with this little candy sprinkles on top. I think there is something suspicious, in general, with Australians.
Finally, our pals the Canadians. On their birthdays, Canadians are usually ambushed and have butter or grease smeared on their noses. Again, it is supposed to be for good luck. The reasoning behind this makes perfect sense to me though. The butter on your nose is to render you too slippery for any negativity or bad luck to get hold of you in the upcoming year. I am wondering if washing it off cancels the contract.
All around the globe, a wide variety of traditions exist. But the topic of discussion is exactly the same. The ball made one trip, all the way around the sun, with your feet balanced on that spinning ball. To mark the anniversary of you showing up on the ball in the first place.
An incredible feat.
Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life. — Omar Khayyam
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young. — Henry Ford
If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work. — Thich Nhat Hanh