Note: Before we begin, just wanted to clarify that 'birthday child' could also mean Mum or Dad. Some of the things obviously Mum and Dad don't do, and as we've grown older, some of us older kids have ditched a few of the traditions mentioned here. The majority of them we all do, however.
In the weeks leading up to the big day:
- The birthday child makes sure every family member knows their gift requests (if they have any).
- The birthday child chooses what sort of cake they would like and makes sure the baker (of their choice) knows exactly how to make it and any small (or large) details that the birthday child requests.
- The BC (birthday child) puts all necessary cake making things (special lollies, fondant icing if required, etc) on the shopping list so it gets purchased.
- The BC hunts around in his or her drawer/desk/stuff container for their Christmas stocking and makes sure it is going to be easily locatable for the night before the big day.
- The BC puts in his or her request for a special 'birthday tea' (Mum makes the tea the birthday child likes the best. Chow mein or lasagna are popular choices for birthday teas.)
The day before the big day:
- The BC makes sure the cake baker bakes the cake. It doesn't normally get decorated until the actual birthday, however.
(Interlude: Here are a bunch of photos of a few of the cakes we've made and eaten to celebrate birthdays in the past... there is a recentish one, a few old, old ones, and some old ones.)
- In the evening, the BC pulls out their Christmas stocking and puts it outside their bedroom door. This is a very important tradition.
The long awaited day itself:
- The BC wakes up at whatever time suits him or her. They rush to the bedroom door and peek inside their stocking. It's always full of exactly the same thing every year, but it's still terribly exciting. It will be full of a mandarin or orange (depending on the time of year and how lucky they are), a wrapped lolly and a $2 coin. This is what each of us gets in our birthday stocking every year. It's a tradition. :)
- The BC arises and dresses. They then walk out to the dining room, where they seat themselves at their usual place at the table. The place is known as the 'birthday chair' and has sprouted two balloons on it during the night. The siblings (who usually arise early on a sibling's birthday) will have brought their various presents and arranged them around the placemat of the BC. The BC is not allowed to open them yet however, oh no! They must wait, tantalised by the shape and size of the mysterious gifts.
- Abbie brings out the special breakfast for the birthday child. For some reason, one of our birthday traditions is that Abbie makes them breakfast. :) She usually does something like pancakes with berry sauce or some other fancy thing. For my last birthday she made donuts. On Abbie's birthday one of us makes her breakfast.
- After the birthday child has breakfasted at their leisure, they have a very impatient time of waiting for Mum and Dad to get up. They aren't allowed to open any of the presents so tantalisingly arranged around their place at the table.
- When Mum and Dad get up, Mum brings out into the dining room the presents from themselves, grandparents, and uncle and aunty. This is now the big moment the birthday child has been waiting for.
- Everyone gathers round as the birthday child is allowed to open the gifts. There are often cries of "That one's from me" and "Open that one next" or "I know what's in that one!"
- After the gifts are all opened, the birthday child will usually (if they are an older child) write down exactly who gave them what so they know who to write thank you notes to. If they are a younger child, they generally skip this step.
- The BC now has a free day. If the birthday falls on a weekday, the BC is very lucky, because they don't have to do schoolwork on their birthday. If it is on a weekend, however, the birthday child doesn't get to miss out on any schoolwork because they wouldn't have done it on that day anyway.
- They will usually get a special lunch if it is so requested, maybe nachos or homemade pizza or pumpkin soup.
- The birthday child also has the whole afternoon to do what they please in (provided they aren't going to any activities like swimming or a music lesson or sport practice). The birthday child is also exempt from any of their usual or extra chores on their birthday.
- Often the birthday child will help to decorate their cake during the afternoon of their birthday. Some birthday children like to leave it all in the hands of the capable baker, while others consider it much more fun to oversee and/or participate in the affair.
- In the evening, the special placemats are brought out. The birthday placemats are flower ones, with roses and lupins on them. (The everyday placemats are roosters on a green background.)
- The specially requested birthday tea is dished up, and everyone eats. After that it really gets exciting.
- Daddy pours everyone a glass of sparkling grape juice.
- One of the older girls puts candles on the cake and someone is sent to man the lights.
- The candles are lit and the lights are all switched off.
- As the older girl brings the cake from the kitchen bench to the table, everyone sings the birthday child "Happy Birthday", closely followed by "For He/She's a Jolly Good Fellow". We then all clap to the number the birthday child is turning. So if Jacob was turning four, we would clap four times. If it was Mum or Dad, we'd clap for substantially longer. :)
- The cake bearer parades the cake around the table so everyone can get a good look. Then they set it down in front of the BC who blows out the candles, and the light person switches the lights back on.
- Someone dishes up the cake. If the BC is an older child, they do it, if not, an older child does it. Danella often ends up getting the job for some random reason.
- After everyone has eaten far too much cake, we do Birthday Blessings. Birthday blessings is when everyone prays for the birthday child. Everyone prays, from those who can barely talk, right up the line. We thank the Lord for the birthday child and the wonderful blessing it is to have that person in our family. We ask for the Lord's hand on their life, and that they would have a wonderful year.
- Then everyone is excused from the table and we all do our normal evening activities. Usually the birthday child is allowed to stay up a bit later than normal, and will play a board game with either Mum or Dad, or if they're lucky, both.
And that's it!! I didn't actually think we had that many birthday traditions, but looking back on that list, there is quite a few!
What birthday traditions do you have in your household?