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Dr. Gerald Brown
May 18, 2017

Fatherhood in the 21st Century: Birthday Traditions

I believe asking about cultural traditions in an evaluation/clinical assessment is important because many people forget to describe their family’s cultural traditions including how birthdays were or were not celebrated.  As fathers we also can begin new traditions or practices on birthdays so that your children will carry on your legacy during momentous points in their kids’ lives.

May is a big birthday month in our family.  In total 5 family and close friends of mine have birthdays during this beautiful month (including my own).  While we were celebrating our daughter’s birthday earlier this month the party hostess introduced us to a cultural tradition that she practices each year and has since her upbringing in Miami, FL.  She stated that it was taught to her to add one additional candle to the birthday cake (in my daughter’s case 7 instead of 6) to represent the year ahead and to invite good fortune, happiness, and peace in the next year.  This got me thinking about including this tradition from now on in all of our family members’ birthday celebrations.  This also piqued my curiosity about other birthday traditions around the world.  According to Kaplan International:

- In Chinese culture, elders and family members gather around the one-year old child and bring toys such as books, dolls and coins.  It is believed that the child’s pursuit in life will depend on the object that he/she picks. The Chinese consider a child a year old at birth.

- In Japan, your 3rd, 5th, and 7th birthdays are the most important, because you will get to participate in the annual “Seven-Five-Three” festival.  Participants usually visit shrines to thank God for their health and strength.

- Some in Britain still practice an ancient way of celebrating birthdays by placing thimbles and coins in the cake’s batter.  The person who will get the coin will be wealthy and the one who gets the thimble will never marry.

- Ireland has a funny way of celebrating birthdays.  Believed that it is for good luck, a child is lifted upside down and gets “bumped” on the floor!  These bumps will depend how old the child is.  An extra bump is also added for good luck (Ouch!).

-In Jamaica, people throw flour in the face of the birthday boy or girl, supposedly for good luck.

-In India, to receive a birthday present in India that is wrapped in black and white paper is akin to being cursed, as it is believed to cause bad luck.

As fathers being present on your child’s birthday will be worth more than any material present you could offer them…

And always remember to tell your child the following each day but especially on their birthday:

  1. Believe in yourself
  2. You were born for special reasons
  3. Look for ways to help others today
  4. Your primary purpose is to discover what your unique talents are (that no one else in the world has)



Doc Brown 

If you would like to learn more about me or my practice Inner Compass Counseling, Coaching, and Consulting, PLLC and have questions feel free to visit my website as well as read my Inner Compass Blog.

Dr. Gerald Brown (Doc Brown) is owner of Inner Compass Counseling, Coaching, and Consulting PLLC in Cornelius, NC and Statesville, NC.  He is passionate about fatherhood issues, immigrant concerns, and specializes in trauma work.  Doc Brown has presented at various conferences and has a multitude of experience training organizations and corporations in diversity and multicultural resilience.  He believes in helping individuals, couples, and families find meaning and integrate that meaning with various resiliencies in order to live purposefully and vibrantly.  He is married with two daughters ages 14 and 6. 



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