Birthday Traditions Around the World
At Create Gift Love we are all about celebrations - designing and making personalised keepsake gifts to celebrate all of life’s special moments, the big and the small. Our handmade personalised gifts are the perfect way to celebrate the key occasions throughout the year (Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Christmas) but special days happen everyday: anniversaries, weddings and, of course, birthdays.
We all celebrate our birthdays slightly differently - some people prefer a quiet day, avoiding any sort of fuss, while others are all about the festivities - but presents, cake and a balloon or two will usually feature in some capacity. It’s tradition, after all.
A huge number of our personalised gifts are bought to celebrate important birthdays and we’re proud that Create Gift Love has been a part of so many birthday celebrations over the last ten years - for customers all over the world. We love hearing about the unique ways you celebrate so we decided to delve into birthday traditions a little deeper and learn about fun birthday traditions around the world. We hope you enjoy this round up of some of our favourites.
Whether it’s the cutting of the birthday cake, a quiet dinner out or a celebratory meal shared with all the family, food and eating are undeniably a huge part of birthday celebrations, in the UK and around the world.
In China, noodles are a huge part of celebratory meals, especially on birthdays and Chinese New Year. “Longevity Noodles” are traditionally eaten on your birthday as their length symbolises a long life and is thought to be a blessing to whoever is eating them. The tradition dates back to the Han Dynasty in China (157 BC - 87 BC) and the custom has been followed ever since. It’s also seen as bad luck to cut your noodles in half as this would indicate a shortened life span - the idea is to slurp the noodles for as long as you can without biting!
A sweet birthday treat you might not have heard of is Fairy Bread, which is traditionally eaten on birthday in Australia. Fairy Bread is essentially sliced white bread (not the fancy kind!) covered in butter and colourful ‘hundreds and thousands’ sprinkles! Unsurprisingly, it’s very popular with children at birthday parties and is often eaten instead of birthday cake. And on the subject of birthday cakes, a tradition we love from Brazil is that the birthday girl or boy will give the first piece of birthday cake to the most important person in their life, usually one of their parents. It’s a great honour to be given the first slice of birthday cake and symbolises deep love and appreciation.
The first thing you usually associate with a birthday is the gifts (you’re in the right place with Create Gift Love if you’re looking for something thoughtful and personalised!) and this is pretty common across the world.
In Italy it’s customary to open presents straight away and in front of the person who has given them to you. There’s no question of “saving for later” or spreading out presents throughout the day, and it would be seen as rude to do so. This part of Italian etiquette means that it’s important to keep your poker face if the gift isn’t quite to your taste. (Fortunately, with our personalised gifts we can guarantee the recipient will love whatever you’ve chosen).
Another gift-based tradition we love comes from Russia, where small presents are hung on a clothesline at children’s birthday parties for all the guests to choose from and take home. It’s a bit like the party bags we give out in the UK but presented in a fun and decorative way.
While birthday traditions are usually based around celebration and kindness to the person whose birthday it is, there are some traditions that are on the more…violent side. Birthday Bumps and Birthday Punches are quite common in the UK (especially if you were unlucky enough to have to go to school on your birthday!) and involve being thrown in the air or punched on the arm once for every year you’ve been alive. It’s a strange one, but it’s well-intentioned! This kind of tormenting tradition isn’t exclusive to the UK, there are some similar physical birthday traditions around the world.
In Ireland some people have a practice called ‘hitting the deck’ which, similar to the bumps, involves the birthday boy or girl being turned upside down and having their head gently bumped on the floor, to the same number as their age. For obvious reasons this tradition tends to be reserved for children, although we’re sure some adults have given it a good go!
Similarly, in a number of countries including Italy, Hungary and Argentina, there is a tradition of ear pulling, where party guests will tug on the birthday boy or girl’s ear once as many years as they are celebrating. There is blessing which goes along with this tradition which wishes the person “live so long as your ears reach you ankles”.
Wherever you are in the world, the aftermath of a birthday party will usually involve some sort of large-scale clear up but some countries are definitely messier than others, it seems! In Jamaica there is a tradition known as ‘antiquing’, where flour is thrown in the face of the birthday boy or girl in an ambush! In Brazil, it’s flour and eggs. Meanwhile in Canada it’s common to smear butter or grease on someone's nose on their birthday. This tradition is thought to bring good luck for the year ahead, as they will be too slippery for any bad luck to stick! Between the three countries, that's almost enough ingredients to bake a birthday cake.