What Things That Should be Prepared to Attend Birthday Party in Russia

Birthday celebrations are some of the more important occasions that we must attend several times every year. A birthday by itself signifies someone’s beginning in life and tends to be quite personal. However, a birthday party is a mean to express thanks to God for being born, as well as an opportunity to strengthen one’s bond with friends and family.

Attending birthday party is also an indispensable art in socializing. Bringing embarrassing gift for the birthday girl or boy? You may risk it being thrown on your face or receiving an even more embarrassing present in your own birthday. Making a shameful and offensive drunk act during the party? You may be excommunicated from that day onward by all of the other friends. Therefore, understanding what may and may not happen during a birthday party is very important.

What Things That Should be Prepared to Attend Birthday Party in Russia

Moreover, every country cultivates different custom in celebrating birthdays and other parties. Most particularly in Russia where many people are quite superstitious, there are some customs that you might want to note in order to avoid offending your host. Regardless of whose birthday you are going to attend, it will be very useful to take precautions, don’t you think so!? So, here are some things that might help you in choosing what things that should be prepared to attend birthday party in Russia.

1. Be Prepared to Come On Time

Russians are not as rigid about time as Japanese or Germans. However, it is considered polite to be on time in Russia, or sending prior notification if you are going to be late. It should not be difficult, because birthday parties in Russia are commonly held on weekends from lunch till dinner, when most people are free to come.

What if your friends’ birthday fall on weekdays? Then he or she may choose to hold the party in the weekend after. In Russia, there is a superstition that says “someone who celebrate birthday in advance, may not live up to the birth date”. Therefore, Russian birthday party will only be held in the exact birth date, or a few days later. Note this well, because you may also invoke bad luck for the birthday person if you say “happy birthday” or give birthday presents before the actual birthday date.


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2. Be Prepared to Offer Birthday Greetings

There are many ways to say “Happy Birthday” in Russia. The most popular standard birthday greeting is С днем рождения (zDNYOM razhDYEnya). Afterward, you should also say a few words of wishes for the birthday person. Here is some examples you can use:

  • Желаю всего самого лучшего, means “Wishing you all the best”
  • Желаю счастья и здоровья, means “Wishing you happiness and health”
  • Желаю успеха и радости, means “Wishing you success and joy”
  • Желаю хорошего настроения, means “Wishing you a great mood”

3. Be Prepared not to Sing “Happy Birthday to You”

Russians do not sing the same “Happy Birthday to You” song as commonly known in the rest of the world. There is another song that generally being sung during birthdays. It is a song from the famous Russian “Cheburashka” cartoon, also known as “Crocodile Gena’s Song”. Here’s the lyric:

Пусть бегут неуклюже
Пешеходы по лужам,
А вода — по асфальту рекой.
И не ясно прохожим
В этот день непогожий,
Почему я веселый такой.

Chorus:
Я играю на гармошке
У прохожих на виду…
К сожаленью, день рожденья
Только раз в году.

Прилетит вдруг волшебник
В голубом вертолете
И бесплатно покажет кино.
С днем рожденья поздравит
И, наверно, оставит
Мне в подарок пятьсот «эскимо».

Chorus:
Я играю на гармошке
У прохожих на виду…
К сожаленью, день рожденья
Только раз в году.

The Russian version of “Happy Birthday to You” song is also well-known, but less favored. Therefore, you might want to try singing this song first before coming to the party. Don’t worry, videos are available online for you to learn.

4. Be Prepared to Play Games

Games during children birthday parties are common. However, adult birthday parties in Russia also feature games which may or may not involve you. It is considered good form to play along if you are invited.

In the event where there are no games in the party, you can still get involved in another Russian birthday tradition: pulling ears. Yes, there is a playful ritual involving pulling the birthday person’s ears as many times as the age they are turning plus one by saying “расти большой и не будь лапшой” (grow big and don’t be foolish).


5. Be Prepared to Bring a Thoughtful Gift

In some other culture, birthday gifts are not as important as your attendance in the birthday party. However, when you agree to attend a party, you should not come empty-handed. Gift tops the list of what things that should be prepared to attend birthday party in Russia. It is best to present something that the birthday person would like. Consider his or her favorite activities. Ask his or her friends and relatives if you are not sure.

Alternatively, when you are absolutely clueless, there are easy options. For a birthday girl, you can present gifts like a bouquet of flower, a box of chocolate, or other popular gifts for women. For a birthday boy, bring beer or an accessory from the man’s favorite sport team.

Chocolate is a popular gift that won’t be refused by anyone, no matter what brand of chocolate you bring to the table. But if you are going to bring flowers, you should bring flowers in odd numbers only, and avoid flower with yellow colors. Yellow flowers and flowers in even numbers are used for funerals in Russia, so it is a major faux pas if you bring them to a birthday party. This is a part of the intriguing flower gifting etiquette in Russia, applied for everyday life and not only during birthday celebrations.

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