• 9.4.2015
  • Tereza Vítková

Czech Customs: Birthday Celebrations

Guidilo.com - Birthday celebrations in Czech republic
Many people, both young and old, love celebrating their birthday. In the Czech republic, like in most countries around the world, cake, presents, family and friends bring in the fun for such a special day. Still, there are some differences even between Czech families. So let's have a closer look to Czech birthday traditions.

The party time
Usually there is a party (although some people prefer not to have one) often accompanied by colorful decorations, such as balloons, confetti streamers or even fireworks. The birthday person celebrates with family first and then with friends. Sometimes if the number of your age is round like 40 or 60 (we call that kind of birthday "kulatiny" = round year) people tend to celebrate it in a big style and invite everyone - family and friends together - to a restaurant or other place that is big enough for all. On really big parties there is also music and dancing.
When the party is held at home, take off your shoes upon entering. The host will provide you with indoor shoes (slippers).
A typical Czech party is commonly about food and chat. The food mainly consists of „chlebíčky" (open sandwiches), „jednohubky" (canapés), salads, cake and drinks (beer, wine and strong alcohol like rum or slivovice - plum brandy).

The gifts & flowers
Everyone gives presents as it is usual in his family, cheaper or expensive, but they should be fitting for the person and make him or her happy. Some friends or families make also a financial contribution for a bigger gift. Gifts are wrapped in a decorative paper or foil (some people use a decorative paper bag) and they are usually opened when received.
Chocolates and bottle of a good alcohol are always a safe bet.
Flowers are an important part of birthdays as well. You can get only a simple bouquet or one single rose from colleagues, boss or not close friends instead of a gift. Most importantly, it should always be an odd number of flowers; even numbers are for funerals.

The cake
The main birthday staple is definitely a birthday cake. Most families bake a home-made cake and use candles to represent how old a person is turning. When the cake is set before the birthday person, he or she is supposed to make a wish, without telling anyone what it is and blow out the candles. If all the candles go out with one breath, it is believed that the wish will come true! The Czech cake is typically based on a cream or butter. The marzipan coating is in lately. Just like chocolate or sugar decorations for the top.

The birthday cards
One can get a birthday card two ways. Either someone writes to you and sends it through the post office (less frequent nowadays). Or you can get the card together with your gift.
Children sometimes make birthday cards themselves, while older people usually buy them.

The radio
There is also a nice tradition to call to a radio station and request a special song for the birthday person. Either you can talk live on air, or you can send an email or sms with your dedication.

Bonus: Name Day
Czech inhabitants have not only birthdays, but Name Day as well. Birthdays are usually celebrated just in immediate family. Name Days, however are widely known and celebrated. Each first name is assigned to one day of the calendar, based on religious traditions, historical events, birthday of a famous person who had the same first name, or on other facts.

A special thanks to Barbora without whom this article would never have been written!

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