Many people around the world celebrate birthdays as a special day marking a person’s arrival into the world. But birthday cakes, parties, presents and the Happy Birthday song can seem strange for children in mountainous and rural areas of Vietnam since celebrating birthdays has not been a typical Vietnamese custom until quite recently.
However, for the children in YWAM Mercy’s three community-based Children’s Homes, their yearly birthday celebration is a time of great joy and something to look forward to every year. Long ago, the children decided they would like to celebrate everyone’s birthday together on one day. In a collective culture like Vietnam, it felt more appropriate to them to celebrate everyone instead of just a single person.
Every time I celebrate my birthday, I realize how much I’ve grown. What struck me the most at the Children’s Home birthday party this year was the realization that I had always lived surrounded by the love and warmth of a true family. As a result, even though I am studying far away, I made plans to celebrate my birthday with my Home mother and the other children at the Home.
In my memories, on my birthday, I was always left alone. I had never celebrated a birthday before. Since living in the Children’s Home, we’ve always celebrated birthdays together. We cut cakes, blew out candles, sang birthday songs, and wished each other a happy and good new year of life on that day. So fun! It is a great experience for me.