A birthday is a day that comes once a year when a person celebrates the anniversary of his or her birth. Birthdays are celebrated in numerous cultures, often with a gift, party, or rite of passage.
Many religions celebrate the birth of their founders with special holidays (e.g. Buddha's Birthday, Christmas).Note the distinction between birthday and birthdate: The former occurs each year (e.g. June 12), while the latter is the exact date a person was born (e.g., June 12, 2001).In most legal systems, one becomes designated as an adult on a particular birthday (often between 12 and 21, and reaching age-specific milestones confers particular rights and responsibilities. At certain ages, one may become eligible to leave full-time education, or become subject to military conscription or to enlist in the military, to consent to sexual intercourse, to marry, to marry without parental consent, to vote, to run for elected office, to legally purchase (or consume) alcohol and tobacco products, to purchase lottery tickets, or to obtain a driver's license. The age of majority is the age when minors cease to legally be considered children and assume control over their persons, actions, and decisions, thereby terminating the legal control and legal responsibilities of their parents or guardian over and for them. Most countries set majority at 18.Cultural conventionsMany cultures have one or more coming of age birthdays:Little girl in traditional birthday hat used in Canada and the U.S.Jewish boys become bar mitzvah on their 13th birthday. Jewish girls become bat mitzvah on their 12th birthday, or sometimes on their 13th birthday in Reform and Conservative Judaism. This marks the transition where they become obligated in commandments of which they were previously exempted and are counted as part of the community.In Canada and the United States, families often mark a girl's 16th birthday with a "sweet sixteen" celebration.In some Hispanic countries, as well as in Portuguese-speaking Brazil, the quinceañera (Spanish) or festa de quinze anos (Portuguese) celebration traditionally marks a girl's 15th birthday.In India, Hindu male children of some castes like Brahmins have the 12th or 13th birthday replaced with a grand "thread ceremony." The child takes a blessed thread and wears it, symbolizing his coming of age. This is called the Upanayana. This ceremony is practiced amongst boys in the Hindu Brahmin culture.In the Philippines, girls on their 18th birthday or boys on their 21st birthday celebrate a debut.In some Asian countries that follow the Zodiac calendar, there is a tradition of celebrating the 60th birthday.In Korea, many celebrate a traditional ceremony of Baek-il (Feast for the 100th day) and Doljanchi (child's first birthday).In Japan there is a Coming of Age Day, for all of those who have turned 20 years of age.In the United Kingdom cards from the Royal Family are sent to those celebrating their 100th and 105th birthday and every year thereafter.In Ghana, on their birthday, children wake up to a special treat called "oto" which is a patty made from mashed sweet potato and eggs fried in palm oil. Later they have a birthday party where they usually eat stew and rice and a dish known as "kelewele", which is fried plantain chunks.In Sudan the children who live in the cities celebrate their birthday, whereas in the country they don't.In India, on a child's first birthday, his or her head is shaved while being held by a special fire. Removal of the hair cleanses the child of any evil in past lives, symbolizing a renewal of the soul.The birthdays of historically significant people, such as national heroes or founders, are often commemorated by an official holiday marking the anniversary of their birth. Catholic saints are remembered by a liturgical feast (sometimes on a presumed birthday). The ancient Romans marked the anniversary of a temple dedication or other founding event as a dies natalis, a term still sometimes applied to the anniversary of an institution (such as a university).A person's Golden or Grand Birthday, also referred to as their "Lucky Birthday", "Champagne Birthday", or "Star Birthday",occurs when they turn the age of their birth day (e.g., when someone born on the 25th of the month turns 25 or when someone born on the ninth turns nine).In many cultures and jurisdictions, if a person's real birthday is not known (for example, if he or she is an orphan), then their birthday may be considered to be January 1. That tradition is followed with horses, their age becoming one, on the first day of the year following their birth and being counted annually after that.The Chinese count age without zero; a newborn's age is one, a 12-month-old is two, and so on.Birthday traditionsChild with Snow White Cake, circa 1930–1940In many portions of the world[vague] an individual's birthday is celebrated by a party where a specially made cake, usually decorated with lettering and the person's age, is presented. The cake is traditionally studded with the same number of lit candles as the age of the individual, or a number candle representing their age. The celebrated individual usually will make a silent wish and attempt to blow out the candles in one breath; if successful, a tradition holds that the wish will be granted. In many cultures, the wish must be kept secret or it won't "come true". Presents are bestowed on the individual by the guests appropriate to her/his age. Other birthday activities may include entertainment (usually by a hired professional, i.e. a clown, magician, or musician), and a special toast or speech by the birthday celebrant. The last stanza of Patty Hill's and Mildred Hill's famous song, "Good Morning to You" (unofficially titled "Happy Birthday to You") is typically sung by the guests at some point in the proceedings. In some countries a piñata takes the place of a cake. An occasional activity is spanking the birthday individual, with one usually gentle "swat" for each year since birth.In North America, the celebration of a birthday is fundamentally about celebrating the role of friends and families in an individual's life and recognizing their importance.
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