Most of us love birthday celebrations, whether they’re our own or for others. It’s fun to make someone feel special for a day (or more). And it’s just as fun to have others do the same for you! After all, the world wouldn’t be as great if YOU weren’t in it…
Birthday celebrations around the world
Birthday cards and presents, cakes with candles and singing 🎶Happy Birthday🎶 are all customs we’re familiar with in the UK (and most other English speaking countries). And of course, some other cultures and countries have their own unique ways of celebrating.
I love the Chinese tradition of eating a longevity noodle. This is an egg noodle that is so long it can fill entire bowl, and the idea is to slurp it up without breaking it apart, so that you don’t cut your lift short.
India also has its own unique take on birthday celebrations. In addition to wearing new brightly coloured clothes on your birthday, you also get to eat your dessert before your dinner. Once the birthday song has been sung the birthday kid slices the cake and then feeds a small slice to the guests, who then return the favour. Seems sensible to me – you don’t want to be too full of food to enjoy the cake to the max!
Of course the world has grown metaphorically smaller and people from different cultures have started hanging out together more. As a result, there is a lot of mix and matching going on, which I think is fab. Because we can never have too many different ideas for interesting ways to celebrate, right?!
For instance in Japan, prior to the 1950s, everyone’s birthday was celebrated on the same day – New Year’s Day. It was traditionally believed that this was the day that everyone got a year older. Times have changed though and nowadays birthdays are celebrated individually with parties and cake, influenced by western culture.
Similarly, the Mexican custom of celebrating birthdays with a piñata has now been widely adopted in the UK and around the USA. And kids are loving it! What could be better than bashing something with a stick until sweets pour out? Though there is the danger that this could happen…
There are a couple of traditions I’d probably prefer not to adopt… In Ireland ‘bumping’ is a common birthday custom. The birthday boy or girl is held upside down and their head (gently) bumped on the floor once for each year of age. And in Argentina kids get their ears pulled… Again the number of times equals the number of years they’ve been alive.
Different cultures also celebrate different ages as more ‘important’. In the UK 18 is considered the age you become an adult (and can buy your own pint at the pub), whereas in the US and South Africa it tends to be 21. Sweet sixteen is also celebrated in the US and Canada. In Mexican culture the Quinceanera is an important tradition – celebrated on a girl’s fifteenth birthday.
With all the different languages in the world it’s not surprising that there are squillions of different birthday songs too. I love the sound of the Norwegian birthday song – “Hurra for deg”! Here it is on Youtube if you fancy a listen 😃
Your birthday, your way
Birthday traditions are fun, but I also think you can choose to celebrate your birthday your way. If you don’t like big parties, it’s perfectly fine to have a few one-on-one celebrations with your close friends instead. If jumping out of a plane on your birthday works for you, then go for it (please use a parachute). Or if you prefer to just stuff your face with cake on your own, that’s fine too. There’s a lot of stuff we have to do in life that we don’t have much say over, so I reckon we should take a stand on our own birthdays and make sure that at least one day a year is spent the way we want it to be!
And while you’re here, check out my range of birthday cards for your favourite people with birthdays coming up soon!