People celebrate birthdays differently depending on the culture, nationality, and religion of the celebrant and the immediate family. For these diversities, birthdays could serve as a rite of passage, or a coming of age milestone designated for rights and responsibilities. Some cultures celebrate birthdays with the intention of marking one’s important day.
It could be a modest shared meal with friends and close relatives or extravagant birthday bash. Some people also avail of birthday packages that come with party programs, including games and entertainment performances. While other cultures have high regard for their customs, celebrating birthdays with just family and serving their traditional foods and delicacies is also a great way to spend the special day.
Birthday Traditions in Different Countries
Chinese Longevity Culture
In China, the 1st, 10th, 60th, 70th, and 80th birthdays are the only ones celebrated, with much attention given to the 60th birthday, as the Chinese believe that reaching 60-years old means completing a full zodiac. They have parties with just family, celebrating with a bowl of long-life noodles called the Chang Shou Mian. Slurping that bowl empty signifies a long life ahead for the celebrant.
The Chinese lunar calendar has a lesser number of days compared with the Westerns. When a Chinese kid is born, his/her age is automatically 1. After he/she turns a year older, people would place different objects around the child on the floor to know what profession the child pursues in the future, and whatever it chooses may be associated with the child’s calling.
Birthday Fiestas in Mexico
Birthdays are like fiestas in Mexico, wherein traditional dishes like tacos, salsa, taquitos, tortillas, and churros are served. Mexicans are fond of holidays and festivities, treating their guests as royalties. Birthday fiestas in Mexico are filled with colourful decorations, fancy attires, music playing, and people singing, dancing, and greeting each other.
Girls turning 15 are thrown parties called the Quinceañera, marking their passage from girlhood to womanhood. Quinceañeras involve birthday celebrants in a formal gown, adorned with pieces of jewellery and makeup, with big birthday packages, and a tiered cake. This celebration symbolises the Mexican’s upholding principle of family and society’s importance to a young woman’s life.
Cake Feeding in India
India is known for its rich and diverse cultural and traditional celebrations and practices. Indians regard birthdays as big deal celebrations, joined with Hindu rituals and Western traditions.
One of the most practised birthday tradition in India is the sharing of cake with all of the guests. The birthday celebrant cuts the no candle cake after everyone sings the happy birthday song, then the celebrant feeds them by hand with a small piece of cake per guest. Starting with family, everyone gets their bites and takes turns in feeding the birthday celebrant with pieces of cake in return.
Head Shaving in Nepal
The traditional Hindu families, including Nepal, practise head-shaving on the first birthday of their children. The kid’s head is shaved of all hair while being held by a special fire. Hindus believed this practice as soul cleansing. They perform this to remove past evil lives out of the child, signifying the renewal of the soul.
Rice yoghurt and colour mixture is also placed in the child’s forehead for good luck as part of the birthday rituals in Nepal. People give presents such as boiled eggs, dried fish, and yoghurt to the birthday child, regarded as blessings for commencement in life. Birthday celebrations in Nepal typically involve members of the family and rarely invite other guests.
No Cake Birthdays
Cakes are the staple food during birthdays, typically included in birthday packages, because of the wishing and blowing on a birthday cake. But to other countries, cakes do not indicate celebrations.
Eating seaweed soup is a South Korean birthday norm. They serve soups during breakfasts for birthdays and during pregnancy for mothers to replenish nutrients after giving birth.
In Russia, people bake pies for the celebrants, personalised with messages crafted in the dough. Homemade pies are the popular birthday food. They are baked to goodness, depending on the celebrant’s preference for taste.
Fairy bread is typical in Australia, which are pastries made of buttered bread and sprinkles. And in the Netherlands, tarts and pancakes are the favourite birthday pastries. Sweden people call their cake filled with marzipan, sponge cake, and whipped cream the princess cakes.
So whether you’re from the West and you celebrate your birthday with friends, or you’re from the East and you’re spending it with just family, there’s no shortage of celebrations when it comes to birthdays around the world.