How Do Children Celebrate Birthdays in France?

By Melinda Kedro
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Whether you will be visiting or living in France when your child expects to celebrate an upcoming birthday or you are simply curious about French birthday traditions, activities and itineraries for a birthday party in France resemble those of an American celebration. There are, however, several distinct differences to be aware of before planning a party for your child.

Happy Birthday Song

In France, the happy birthday song follows the exact same tune as the American version of the song. The French words for the happy birthday song are "joyeux anniversaire." The traditional happy birthday song is sung to children at their birthday parties in France.

When to Schedule a Party

The French school system is structured differently than the American school system, with Wednesdays off and children attending school Saturday mornings. Some French families choose to plan for their child's birthday party to take place on a Wednesday, as Sundays are still perceived as "family-only" days in France.

Birthday Activities

Children's birthday parties in France are typically similar to an American child's birthday party. Parties are usually held in the home and the child's friends attend, but not their parents. According to the Paguro website, a French birthday party lasts around 2 to 3 hours and includes games and activities such as music, dancing and arts and crafts projects. It is a common tradition in France for children to attend birthday parties dressed in costumes as well.

What About the Cake?

Most French families celebrate their child's birthday party with a cake or cupcakes. Another popular French tradition is to serve a special birthday tart as opposed to a cake. Many tarts and cakes baked in French bakeries are not decorated with the same type of frosting and icing as American cakes but are adorned with nuts, pieces of glazed fruit or simple cream toppings.

About the Author

With more than 10 years experience in early childhood education, Melinda Kedro holds a Masters degree in education, teaching certification through the Association Montessori Internationale and is a licensed childcare provider through the Colorado Department of Human Services.