Worldwide cultural traditions and rituals

An as­pect of bless­ing in many cul­tures is to offer a wish that the re­cip­i­ent lives to 100 years old. Among Hin­dus, peo­ple who touch the feet of el­ders are often blessed with “May you live a hun­dred years”. In Swe­den, the tra­di­tional birth­day song states, May he/she live for one hun­dred years. In Ju­daism, the term May you live to be 120 years old is a com­mon bless­ing. In Poland, Sto lat, a wish to live a hun­dred years, is a tra­di­tional form of praise and good wishes, and the song “sto lat, sto lat” is sung on the oc­ca­sion of the birth­day cel­e­bra­tions—ar­guably, it is the most pop­u­lar song in Poland and among Poles around the globe.

Chi­nese em­per­ors were hailed to live ten thou­sand years, while em­presses were hailed to live a thou­sand years. In Italy, “A hun­dred of these days!” (cento di questi giorni) is an au­gury for birth­days, to live to cel­e­brate 100 more birthdays. Some Ital­ians say “Cent’anni!”, which means “a hun­dred years”, in that they wish that they could all live hap­pily for a hun­dred years. In Greece, wish­ing some­one Happy Birth­day ends with the ex­pres­sion να τα εκατοστήσεις (na ta ekatostisis), which can be loosely trans­lated as “may you make it one hun­dred birth­days”. In Sri Lanka, it is a cus­tom to bless as “you may live 220 in­stead of 120”.

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