How Are Birthdays Celebrated in Nigeria?
As with other cultures, Nigerians of all ages may choose to celebrate their birthdays by throwing parties ranging from small to extravagant ones.
However, such events are especially for children as they reach certain milestone ages such as 1, 5, 10 and 15.
- Jollof rice, a popular dish in West Africa, is common at such events. Then of course there are birthday gifts. However, instead of giving such to a child outright, it is sometimes distributed through a game known as “Pass the Parcel” where the package is handed around the room to a background of music and revelry, and then when the music stops, the person holding it tears off some of its packaging, which is done repeatedly until the present is finally revealed. And yes, cakes are also an intrinsic part of Nigerian birthday customs. In fact just by merely viewing the cake, you can often ascertain the gender of the person whose birthday is being celebrated. For instance, girls can have a “Barbie”-themed cake whereas boys can have one whose appearance is centered around the game of football (soccer).
- Nigerians are known throughout West Africa for their extravagance, and birthday parties of course offer a showcase to display wealth. For instance, the overall success of a party can be judged by the value of the people who attend it, with the class of the guests being largely determined by perhaps what they drive and/or by the apparel they are wearing. This reality extends to children’s parties also as they can also become quite expensive. For example, parents may hire a mascot, such as an adult dressed as Barney the dinosaur, to liven up the celebration. The services of a professional clown can also be employed to entertain children. Adult parties are highlighted by such delicacies as meat and fish. Drinks are also an important feature at birthday celebrations in Nigeria.
- You can find “minerals” – or soft drinks – at parties for both children and adults. However, at adult gatherings, you would likely also find more-mature beverages such as beer. Due to the potential costliness of a birthday party in Nigeria, adults are advised to only invite their closest, most-trusted associates to prevent the likelihood of a nonreciprocal freeloader crashing the event and consuming resources with no regard for other guests in attendance.
- Sometimes the extravagance of Nigerian birthday parties can reach the borderlines of asininity to the point of even becoming dangerous. Furthermore these days, even though many people have personal sound system, someone throwing a party may consider hiring a live DJ with his own equipment not only because they can generate more sound but also to add additional flare to the occasion.
- Another less-expensive way the tech-savvy Nigerians acknowledge the birthday of loved ones is of course through social-media platforms like the ever-popular Facebook and Twitter. In fact as with other cultures, when the birthday of a Nigerian comes around he or she should be fully expectant of having their Facebook wall flooded with “HBD” (an acronym for “happy birthday”) and other such joyous greetings.
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