Children’s birthday traditions vary all over the world. In every place, the birthday child’s parents, extended family, and friends find ways to make the day special and commemorate early birthdays with style. In the United Kingdom, there are some unifying traditions, like some sort of “birthday bump.” There are also special traditions common in each nation.
Birthdays in England
A British birthday cake has small tokens baked into the batter. When the cake it cut, each party guest looks for objects in their slice to tell their fortune. Traditionally, finding a coin in your slice of cake was considered lucky and finding a thimble was considered unlucky. Today, objects are more likely to be small figurines, toys, and candies.
British birthday bumps are done by party guests lifting the birthday child up in the air and back down. One bump is given for each year of the child’s age, plus additional bumps for special amounts of good luck. Birthday cards originated in England and it is still traditional for friends and family to give cards on birthdays, just as it is in many countries around the world.
Birthdays in Scotland
A one pound note is given for each year of a child’s age, some children also receive an extra pound as a symbol of good luck. Instead of a bump, birthday children are given a gentle smack for each year.
When a child turns twenty one, he or she is often given the key to the house as a birthday gift. This symbolizes the transition to adulthood and the ability to leave the house and come back as he or she pleases.
Birthdays in Ireland
In Ireland, birthday bumps involve lifting the birthday child up and “bumping” him or her back down on the floor. This is repeated once for each year in the child’s age, plus one extra bump for good luck in the coming year.