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Birthdays in Germany

German Birthday Traditions & Customs.

Birthdays in Germany are similar to American and British birthday celebrations, with a few unique exceptions “sprinkled” here and there throughout German-speaking countries. Cake, presents, family and friends are equally important, and no more so than for children.

In Germany, a birthday celebration is called a Geburtstagsparty or Geburtstagfest. Usually on the Saturday following the actual birthday (or if the birthday itself is on that day) the boy or girl invites family and friends for “Kaffe und Kuchen” (coffee and cake).

Party games such as Blinde Kuh and  Apfelangeln are popular but not before the presentation of the birthday cake and song. Many people in Germany choose to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ in English, but the German version follows the same melody albeit with different words:

“Zum Geburtstag viel Glück,zum Geburtstag viel Glück, zum Geburtstag liebe ………., zum Geburtstag viel Glück!“

When it comes to birthdays in Germany, there is a special rule that is strictly observed. Under no circumstances should the Geburtstagkind, “Birthday Child”, be told “Happy Birthday” before the big day has arrived. In Germany, mentioning someone’s birthday before the date is considered bad luck.  If sending someone a gift, it is always advisable to write “GEBURTSTAG” marked on it, so they don’t inadvertently open it a few days early.

With that crucial bit of advice in mind, time to sit back with cake (or crumbs) in hand and say “Das war ein schöner Tag!”

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