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!



Filed under Language Learning

4 responses to “Birthdays in the Netherlands

  1. Ali

    One bonus to the Netherlands approach. You don’t have to feel self centered for drawing attention to your birthday, nor do you feel hurt if no one plans anything for you.

  2. I’m going to make myself a 10 egg daffodil nut cake right now!

  3. Pingback: Mom. ♥ | Welcome to misfit dopes ^▽^

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