What's so special about Chinese birthdays?
Just make sure you get them right.
Otherwise when you throw a Chinese birthday party, the surprise might be on you!
My Chinese girlfriend told me her birthday was August 15th. And then I asked her which astrological sign that was. And to my surprise - she knew! Her English vocabulary wasn't large enough to know the word "Libra".
So instead she made a gesture with her hands of a scale coming into balance. I thought I understood her meaning, but there was something wrong here.
If you know about astrology, you're probably confused - as I was. Because August 15th is definitely NOT Libra.
It's not like you figure it out once and you're set. It changes every year.
It's Leo the lion! Yet she insisted she was Libra and she was very clear about the date of her birth - she wrote it out on a paper. How could I mix up the translation of that?!
Her birthday must really be August 15th - or was it?
Fast-forward to many, many months later.
I clued in.
Now please allow me to save you those many months of confusion. Some Chinese people celebrate their birthday using the Chinese lunar calendar!
So even though her birthday is "August 15th" - it's actually celebrated at the beginning of October, sometimes even late in September!
That's the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the Chinese Lunar calendar.
And yes - it changes every year! It's not like you figure it out once and you're set.
Unfortunately for her, I discovered this before I lavished her with gifts on August 15th.
How do you say “Happy Birthday” in Mandarin? Sheng ri kuai le!
That's pronouced: Shun - rah - kwaii (waii as in Hawaii) - lah!
And here it is written out for you in a number of Chinese fonts:
And here are the same characters written with icing on a delicious Chinese cake!
Celebrating her birthday in
China is very similar
to celebrating a
birthday where I come from.
A big dinner with friends and relatives, and everyone usually brings a gift. Or sometimes a Chinese red envelope with money inside.
And yes, there is a traditional birthday cake. Chinese aren't big into sweet desserts right after supper.
So the cake might be eaten a few hours after dinner - around midnight.