Feliz Aniversário! Tillykke med fødselsdagen! Bon Anniversaire! Happy Birthday!
Imagine how many unique traditions there are around the world when even families in the same country have a wide variety of birthday traditions. From celebrating with a cake and candles in the United States to slurping long noodles in China, there are many truly interesting traditions.
Canada: Nose Grease
On the Atlantic side of Canada, birthday boys and girls are sometimes “ambushed” and their noses are greased, usually with butter, to ward off bad luck. A friend who lives in Pictou told this writer that “The butter got worse as you got older. It was good luck as much as torture as I remember it.” We would imagine so!
China: Long Noodles for Longevity
Chinese birthday tradition maintains that one should symbolize their longevity by eating a plate of long noodles, slurping them in as far as possible before biting.
On German kids' birthdays, they get candles, a cake, and presents. They also don't have to do any homework or chores. Pretty sweet, right? Well, for adults it's a little different. Turns out that if you are a man over 30 who is still single, you will be made to sweep the city hall stairs while your friends throw garbage at you. That way everyone will know you don't have a girlfriend.
In Japan, similar to China, they traditionally celebrated a person turning a year older on New Year's Day. Instead of an official party, young children participate in the 7-5-3 celebration, which is held on November 15th and is called the Shichi-go-san (七五三). Because children often died young in ancient times, when a boy reaches the age of five or a girl reaches the ages of three and seven, the child puts on his or her finest clothes and goes to the shrine to give thanks for health. Children might also be allowed to purchase a bag of candy.
Mexico: The Birthday Piñata
Mexicans sure know how to have a good time, and it’s no surprise that they have what is in my opinion the most fun tradition for children: The birthday piñata filled with candy. Grab a blindfold and a broomstick, and let the celebration begin. I don’t know about you, but I certainly would trade my birthday cake for a piñata any day.
Birthday parties for kids in Brazil are traditionally large, extravagant affairs. There are even specific event venues whose sole purpose is hosting kids' birthday parties. No party is complete without an elaborate dessert and candy table that includes gift bags guests can fill and take home. The cake is the centerpiece of this dessert table and is surrounded by a huge variety of sweet treats. The special birthday person is given the first piece of cake but doesn't keep it for himself. Instead, he gives this piece to an important person in his life like his mom or dad.
What about you? How do you celebrate birthdays in your country?