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How do Germans celebrate birthdays?

Manhattan
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How do Germans celebrate birthdays?

I am wondering what the customs are when celebrating a friend or loved one's birthday. Is there cake and candles? A song? What are the traditions? My husband and I will be traveling to both Germany and Italy this year for two separate birthday parites and I am collecting info...

Thanks in advance!!

Colorado Springs...
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1. Re: How do Germans celebrate birthdays?

In Germany, pretty much in the same manner and scale as here in the States. If it is a major birthday, there may be a family party, either lunch, dinner, or lunch and afternoon coffee combined. Usually there is a Geburtstagskuchen (birthday cake). Some people sing "Hoch soll (er/sie- he/she) leben, hoch soll (er/sie)leben, dreimal hoch", it depends on whether the party is in a public venue or the home. Some people now sing Happy Birthday.

In Italy, it tends to be a bit more elaborate.

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KG
Oregon
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2. Re: How do Germans celebrate birthdays?

Are these birthdays that you are attending special milestone events? I went to a 50th birthday last year in Germany and it was similar to ones here although a little more formal with all ages in attendence. Lots of food, drinks, speeches, drinks, singing. I did not hear our Happy Birthday as almost eveything was said in German...Bring American birthday cards approprate for the particular person..We have such great cards here...and American made gifts..that should be easy for you in New York!

Las Vegas, Nevada
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for Stuttgart, Baden-Wurttemberg
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3. Re: How do Germans celebrate birthdays?

In Germany a lot is made of the 30th, 40th, 50th, etc. birthday. What I find to be the main difference between the US and Germany is that in the US I would never have a birthday party for myself, this would be provided by family or friends and I would be the guest of honor. In Germany, you personally invite the guests and serve as host having to foot an enormous bill for the multitude of guests' food and drinks at a very nice restaurant (similar to hosting a small wedding). Some of these events are highly structured with programs and others may provide entertainment of some sort. I have never observed a birthday cake at these celebrations, but gifts are appropriate. For my birthday, we have cake afterwards at home my being an American. For minor birthday celebrations, a few guests (best friends, close family) may be invited and then its like treating people to dinner.

Someone else mentioned birthday cards. Although my son in the US doesn't read German, I always enjoy sending him simple German birthday cards because they can be so different and funnier than American ones, which I can't get.