VATICAN CITY Pope Francis, who turns 80 on Saturday, responded to thousands of people singing "Happy Birthday" on Wednesday by joking that doing it early may bring a jinx on him.
"Thank you very much for your greetings for my upcoming birthday," the Argentine pope said at his general audience, the last public appearance before the birthday.
"But I'll tell you something that will make you laugh. In my country, expressing greetings ahead of time brings bad luck and those who do it are jinxers," he said.
The Vatican, a sovereign city-state surrounded by Rome, has produced a postage stamp to mark the birthday of the pope, the first from Latin America, who was elected in 2013.
It also created seven email addresses where anyone can send birthday greetings to the pontiff, including in Latin, email@example.com.
The others are in Italian, Spanish, English, French, German and Polish and the hashtag for social medial is #Pontifex80.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)