Daily Archives: April 9, 2013

Birthdays in the Netherlands

Today is my birthday, hoera! How we talk about and celebrate birthdays can differ quite widely it seems.  What do you say to a birthday boy or girl?

Don’t say “Congratulations!” when your English-speaking friend has a birthday, say “Happy Birthday!” Reserve “Congratulations” for when someone gets a promotion or graduates. Congratulations implies achieving some success, and for some strange reason we English speakers don’t consider getting older an achievement. I don’t know why!

Happy Birthday English

In the Netherlands it is traditional to throw your own party/bring your own cake. This goes by the name of “traktatie” which is when you make or buy your own cake and bring it to work/school. “Ik trakteer!” means you treat the rest of the office to your birthday, they don’t treat you because it’s your birthday. Today, I am looking forward to treating my students in true Dutch fashion. I made these and they are delicious!  In the US, however, friends and family usually throw you a party and provide you with cake.

The jury is still out on which I like better! At least when you make the cake yourself, you always get what you want!

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