Every year, so many children living in poverty or in orphanages miss out on having a birthday celebration. Learn what birthday festivities look like in cultures around the world and how you can give a birthday bash to a child who might not otherwise get to celebrate! 

Every year on June 1, International Day of the Child, Holt sponsors and donors help to throw a big birthday party for the children in our programs!

For children living in orphanages or in poverty, their actual birthdays probably came and went without a celebration this year…. When resources are limited, families and orphanages just can’t afford it.

That’s why International Day of the Child is so important! Because every child deserves to feel celebrated!

On June 1, children around the world get to celebrate with a birthday party, games, special outings, a fun meal and a gift just for them. It’s all made possible by the generous gift of $30 that you give to your sponsored child or another child in Holt’s programs! (Anyone can give, not just sponsors!)

Here’s a look at birthday traditions for children around the world.

Korea 생일 축하해요 

Korean children are first celebrated long before they reach their first year of life, at 100 days. In Korea this occasion is called baek-il, and comes from a time when infant mortality in Korea was high. One of the best-known birthday celebrations in Korea is a child’s first birthday, or dol. The celebration includes a prayer ceremony, a colorful outfit for the child and a festive feast to mark the day. The child is seated at a table covered in symbolic objects like pens, rice and a bow and arrow — tradition says that the first two objects the child picks up predict their future!

Mongolia Төрсөн өдрийн мэнд

When children in Mongolia reach their birthdays, they sit in the northernmost part of their house, or ger, which is traditionally an honored location. There, they are blessed with a benediction. A child’s fifth birthday is also a momentous occasion in Mongolia. If the family has the resources, the child is presented with a saddle and a horse. 

Vietnam Chúc Múng Sinh Nhât!

In Vietnam, children are already used to sharing their birthdays with others! It is Vietnamese tradition to celebrate everyone’s birthday on a day they call Tết Nguyên Đán. This day marks both the start of spring and Vietnamese New Year. This date usually falls in late January or early February. People set off fireworks, put up festive decorations and share wishes for good health and happiness in the coming year with each other.

Thailand สุขสันต์วันเกิด

As a Buddhist culture, one of the most common birthday traditions in Thailand is to visit a local temple and offer food to the monks there. This is a time-honored way to show reverence and gratitude. Things like birthday cakes and presents have not historically been a part of Thai birthday culture, but with western influence their popularity has grown.

India जन्मदिन की शुभकामनाएँ

Birthdays come with large, festive celebrations in India, no matter how old you’re turning. The day often begins with a visit to the temple, to offer prayers and receive a blessing. Later, presents are not the focus, but rather a new or fancy set of clothes to mark the day. Cake, however, is a must! In fact, the child or adult whose birthday it is usually serves their guests before they themselves eat cake.

Colombia ¡Feliz cumpleaños!

Birthdays are light-hearted and festive in Colombiayou are even at risk of being pranked! La enmaicenada is a joking custom where a box of corn starch (maizena) or flour, is dumped on the birthday person. Sometimes it is even followed up with eggs! Colombians usually also make birthday cakes and sing a birthday song while the birthday girl or boy blows out the candles. Piñatas are also traditional parts of most children’s birthdays in Colombia!

Whatever the birthday traditions, it is so important for a child to feel celebrated for their presence in the world. We are so grateful to Holt sponsors and donors for giving children around the world a birthday celebration!

group of children holding balloons and jumping into the air

Give a Happy Birthday

You can give a birthday party, meal and present to a child in need!

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