Many cultures celebrate the anniversary of the day they were born – their birthday. In some cultures, birthdays are annual celebration. Other cultures only celebrate particular birthdays. In the UK, important birthday years are 18, 21 and 40; whilst in Japan the years 3, 5 and 7 are particularly important.
In some countries, such as Italy, people celebrate Saint’s Day or Name Day. Children are often named after a saint, who becomes their lifetime guardian. The child honours the saint by celebrating their sacred day.
Many faiths celebrate the birthday of their religion’s leader or founder.
- Buddhists celebrate Wesak which marks the birth of the Buddha and takes place in May.
- Christians celebrate Christmas, marking the birth of Jesus, the Son of God.
- Sikhs celebrate the birth of some of their Gurus at Gurpurb.
- Hindus celebrate the birthday of their gods and their many incarnations, such as Krishna, Hanuman and Ganesh.
- Americans celebrate the birthdays of important citizens such as Martin Luther King Jr, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.
- Mother’s Day is celebrated in many countries, but not always on the same day. Motherhood has been celebrated since ancient times. The ancient Greeks and Romans worshipped the mother of their Gods and celebrated with a dawn festival with honey-cakes and flower tributes – much like the UK tradition of giving mothers breakfast in bed with flowers in a vase! In the UK, Mothering Sunday falls on the middle Sunday of Lent and is determined by the cycle of the moon. It was officially recognised in the 1600s when domestic servants would be granted the day off work to go home and visit their mother. Father’s Day is celebrated in the UK in June.