Ask any kid what their favorite holiday is and we bet a large majority will respond with “my birthday!” After all, who wouldn’t? There’s cake, a party, presents, and it’s a day all about them!
Aside from what you normally associate birthdays with, though, does your family have other traditions that you follow when it comes time to celebrate another year of life? If you’re looking to start something new, take a look at how people celebrate in other countries – you may want to give one of these a try!
In Mexico, one of the most popular things to have at a birthday party is a pinata. Filled with candy, party guests take turns giving it their all to crack it open, and once this happens, well, you know what comes next – everyone picks up as much candy as they can! A very special birthday celebrated in Mexican culture is a woman’s 15th birthday – known as a Quinceanera, this birthday is said to symbolize her transition into womanhood.
Birthdays celebrated in Great Britain are pretty similar to what you’d experience here in the United States – birthday cakes, and the singing of “happy birthday to you,” for example. However, something different to note is that sometimes, families will place something symbolic into the birthday cake (such as a coin for riches and wealth) for the birthday boy or girl to discover.
This might surprise you, but unlike here in the United States where your friends usually treat you on your birthday, in Germany, if you’re invited to a birthday celebration, it’s the birthday boy or girl who pays! Additionally, it is said that if you wish someone a happy birthday before their actual birthday it is bad luck, so you’ll need to be cautious about when you say it. For the gents who are single on their 30th birthday, a popular tradition is to sweep the steps of their town hall or another equally busy place – and, they can’t stop until they find a lucky lady to kiss!
Also like here in the U.S, Irish birthdays are usually celebrated by having friends and family come together to enjoy food, drinks and fun. They also follow the tradition of “bumping” the birthday boy or girl, which if you’ve heard of giving someone “birthday punches,” you can equate this to being very similar – in “bumping,” an adult is said to flip the person upside down and bump them on the floor as many times as they are old (very gently, of course!).
If you’re in Canada to celebrate someone’s birthday, don’t be surprised if you see them with something greasy such as butter on their nose. The purpose of doing so? To keep bad luck away for the following year! People who follow this tradition believe that putting something like butter on the birthday boy or girl’s nose will make them “too slippery” for bad luck to be present as they head into their next year.
Birthdays in Australia are almost always celebrated with a BBQ. Similar to parties here in the states, you can expect to see decorations such as balloons, and the birthday boy or girl will make a wish by blowing out the candles on their cake. However, a different tradition is that children typically eat what is called fairy bread – bread covered in butter and sprinkles!
Regardless of when you were actually born, everyone in Vietnam celebrates their birthday on the same day – New Year’s Day. Known as “Tet,” a baby will officially be one year old on this day no matter how soon before that they were actually born. On this day, adults are known to give children red envelopes with “lucky money” in it to celebrate and congratulate them on another year.
Birthdays are huge in Norway! In fact, they are so important that children who have birthdays during the school year will most certainly be recognized and celebrated in class. What’s interesting here, though, is that instead of having a birthday party thrown for them, it’s up to the birthday boy or girl to plan their own party.
You’ll know someone is celebrating a birthday in Brazil just by the way the house is decorated – typically banners and brightly colored paper flowers are put up. Children in Brazil are also known to eat candy on their birthday that is shaped like fruits and vegetables, and they may also have their earlobes pulled on! Like “birthday punches” or “bumping” in Ireland, their earlobes are pulled as many times as they are old.
We couldn’t possibly finish our list without mentioning some of the traditions we hear about in the U.S! Although everyone’s birthday isn’t on the calendar, the U.S is known for celebrating the birthdays of famous people, such as certain Presidents and Martin Luther King Jr. (you may even get the day off from school or work for it!). Then, there’s also the smearing of your name on the cake, having the birthday boy or girl cut the first slice, blowing out the candles, and the giving of gifts.