What does an American birthday celebration include?

by Whitney Moss on February 20, 2013

in How to

Heather came up with the idea of writing about how first birthdays are honored around the globe. It seems among our real-life friends, Korean first birthday traditions are the most common. I’ve been to one such party where the baby was dressed in a traditional outfit called a hanbok, and placed in front of a selection of symbolic objects. Whichever item the baby reaches for is said to predict his or her future path – financial success if she reaches for a dollar, abundance if he or she reaches for a food item.

Korean first birthday celebration

I started thinking about how I would describe American birthday customs if they were not native to me. Here are the practices I’ve grown to take completely for granted:

  1. Purchase birthday gifts for the child and wrap them in paper.
  2. Decorate for a party with balloons and or streamers.
  3. Invite guests to celebrate with a sweet treat, only after presenting that treat with lit candles to be blown out by the birthday child.

Do these three traditions sum up the American birthday custom? What else is required?

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These photos are from Julian’s third birthday party, a couple of days before Halloween, which dictated both Holden’s outfit and the small pumpkin decorating activity we did in the backyard.

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Is it challenging to keep it this simple?

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RookieMoms.com co-founder Whitney lives with her husband, son, and daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area where she writes about parenting, crafts, and activities that moms can do with babies in tow. She and Heather also publish 510Families.com, a site for East Bay parents and are the authors of The Rookie Mom's Handbook and Stuff Every Mom Should Know.

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