It’s crazy to think how everyone has an image in their mind for how a birthday is celebrated. In the United States, this looks like lighting the candles on the cake, singing happy birthday, as well as making a wish and blowing out the candles to the applause of loved ones in the background. Yet as we’ve covered in our series of kid’s birthday parties from around the world, this looks different depending on the country and the culture. In today’s edition of various birthday traditions, we will be traveling to the largest continent on the planet.
Africa is not only the largest continent on earth, but has some of the most diverse range of cultures imaginable. The countries and languages are as drastically different as the people themselves. To paint a picture of the differences in culture across the continent, there are an estimated 1500-2000 languages spoken across Africa.
That being said, it is nearly impossible to encapsulate all of the varied traditions that take place for kid’s birthday parties, but the birthday celebrations—whether mentioned in this post or not—are rich in history and depth nonetheless. Take a look at some of the kid’s birthday parties that happen in countries across Africa, and book your next birthday event at Rebounderz in Rohnert Park! Start a tradition you and your family will enjoy, and schedule a birthday party today.
Located in western Africa, Ghana has some birthday celebrations that differ significantly from cake and candles. Kids are treated to a breakfast dish called oto, which is sweet potatoes and eggs combined into a patty, and is then fried. There are many tribes and peoples in Ghana, one of which are the Asante people. During a person’s birth week, they participate in a cleansing ritual that helps to purify the birthday person’s soul. A feast takes place after the ritual.
Many countries in northern Africa are predominantly Muslim, which has an impact on kid’s birthday parties. While families who are not Muslim or who are non-practicing Muslims, birthday celebrations might look similar to Westernized celebrations (the candles and cake, etc.). However, some practicing Muslims adhere to a more strict interpretation of the Quran, and believe that birthdays should not be celebrated.
Morocco, Algeria, and Egypt are some of the most well-known countries in northern Africa, and reflect this sentiment. The western and European style of kid’s birthday parties have grown in popularity around the globe, and their influences have made an impact on how other religions and cultures celebrate.
Zimbabwe is located in the southeastern region of the African continent. In many cultures in Zimbabwe, gift giving is an important part of life. Gifts are regularly given at kid’s birthday parties, like in the United States, but gifts are also of great significance in general. To refuse a gift, no matter the occasion, is seen as the utmost sign of disrespect. Unlike the United States, it’s also very common to ask for a gift. This is not seen at all as a cultural taboo, rather, it’s just part of life. Food is commonly given as gifts, but practically anything, from medicine to birthday presents, can be given and is a sign of care.
Many people celebrate Westernized customs in many parts of Namibia when it comes to kid’s birthday parties. However, one tribe has a unique way for remembering a child’s birthday. The Himba tribe recognizes a birthday as the day a child first became a thought in the mother’s mind. Additionally, each child in this tribe has a special song, and they and their community sing it to the child all throughout their life. This practice continues well into adulthood, all the way up until death.
Birthday celebrations are very similar to those in the United States in Kenya. One of the standards of a kid’s birthday parties is bringing treats to school, and this is the same in Kenya as well. A fun difference exists in the tradition of feeding each other birthday cake. On their birthday, a kid will first be fed a piece of cake by their parent, then the teacher, followed by their best friend.
No matter where you are around the world, there’s such an appreciation for life. Celebrate any upcoming birthdays at Rebounderz in Rohnert Park!