When it’s someone’s birthday here in Holland, you don’t wish them a “Happy Birthday,” you say “Gefeliciteerd,” which translates more closely as “Congratulations.” What are you congratulating them for? For surviving?
What makes even less sense is the Dutch custom that, in addition to congratulating the birthday boy or girl, you are expected to congratulate his or her mother, uncle, next-door neighbour, children, or whoever happens to be there when you visit their home. What for? Beats me! Perhaps for surviving another year of being related to such a miserable old git?
I could understand it when my children were small. When people congratulated me on my son’s first birthday, I felt that I deserved it. After all, I HAD survived a year of midnight feedings, colic, projectile vomit, dirty diapers, and inexplicable screaming. I deserved congratulations (and a medal, as far as I was concerned)! But when the birthday girl is turning 25, what has her great-aunt’s next-door neighbour done to deserve congratulations? As far as I can see, nothing except enter the room.