In Thailand, it is traditional to go to your local temple on your birthday to make merit. It is also common that if you hold a birthday party, you not only need to pay for everything, but you should give your guests some presents too. Most of my students don’t have much of a birthday compared to ones I had when I was younger. However, with the influence of Western movies, Thai youngsters often persuade their parents to buy them a birthday cake and also a present. The present is never really that special. Today, my school celebrated its 51st birthday by inviting 20 monks. The students all came early to offer food and other essentials to the monks. Tables were set up around the school playground and the monks went around a few times collecting alms.