What do you get the pope for his birthday?

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How do you celebrate the birthday of the Holy Father?

How about some Bavarian dancers, nostalgic "oompah" music and a maypole? Oh and make sure his older brother is there for the festivities.

That's just what a contingent from his homeland of Bavaria did today.

Traditionally dressed folk dancers performed the skirt-twirling Schuhplattler dance complete with stomping shoes to a Bavarian band. Children recited a traditional German birthday poem and he was presented with an Easter basket with cakes, dark bread, ham and colorful eggs.

The pope said the festivities reminded him of his youth. Not a bad accomplishment for the 85-year-old pontiff, whose 88-year-old brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, came to Rome for the celebration.

If you'd like to send the pope birthday greetings, or wish him well on the seventh anniversary of his pontificate April 19, email auguri.benedetto@vatican.va.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 1970