Birthday parties are a popular tradition in Russia, just as in other parts of the globe. While many Russian birthday customs closely parallel those of other cultures, such as the serving of sweet treats and the company of dearest friends and family members, many are also distinctly Russian, notably the pirozhki offerings and karavay festivities.

Traditional Birthday Meals

Traditional Russian birthday meals involve fish, both in pickled and smoked form. Potato and beet salads alike are also common items on the Russian birthday menu. Pirozhkis frequently make appearances at these parties, too. Pirozhkis are fried dumplings that are generally filled with meat, cabbage, cheese, potatoes or eggs. Beef is commonly used to prepare pirozhkis. While many pirozhkis are savory, others are sweet desserts packed with jelly. Birthday menus also often feature special food requests courtesy of the person being celebrated.

Birthday Pie

Some Russians enjoy cake on birthdays, but doubled-crusted pies are extremely common, too. These pies are generally sweet and filled with fruit. The crusts usually prominently display the names of the birthday person. Pies are extremely popular in Russia and exist in a diverse array of forms, sugary, salty, circular and square.

Timing of Birthday Parties

Birthday parties in Russia generally take place on weekends when most people are free to attend. They generally last for both lunch and dinner. Russian birthday parties are typically scheduled either for the exact birth date, or a little after it. Russians generally don't celebrate birthdays before their date, as this is considered hubristic and bad luck.

Traditional Birthday Games

Birthday parties for Russian children often are centered around games. One traditional game involves the guests singing about preparing a karavay. Karavays are a type of sweetbread frequently served at celebratory events such as birthdays, weddings and festivals. The bread is round and has a thick texture. Once the children are through singing the karavay song, they surround the celebrant and dance. Decorations are also big parts of Russian birthday parties for children.