World Party Day at the start of April is not only an excuse to get together with family and friends, but it also promotes an important message – peace is what happens when war is not promoted or engaged in and that by getting to know each other, understanding each other cultures is exactly what is needed to foster greater understanding.
This gave us a thought – how do other cultures celebrate birthdays? As lovers of parties and get togethers with friends, family, colleagues and neighbours, we wanted to know more.
Different Country, Different Celebrations
Birthdays are celebrated in different ways and we found the following…
In some areas of Canada, such as Nova Scotia, the birthday boy or girl were sometimes ‘ambushed’ in the nicest conceivable way and their noses greased with butter. This was, according the superstition, all that you needed to ward off bad luck.
As the birthday boy or girl grew older, the grease got worse, with other lubricants other than butter used to rub on the nose. We couldn’t find out what these new greases would be but there are plenty of contenders…
The Chinese have a life expectancy of just over 75 years of age and what can help your chances of living a long life is to try and eat a long noodle on your birthday. The further along the noodle you get before you bite it, the better.
If a man is not married by the time he is 30 years of age, there is a tradition that on their birthday they sweep the steps of the city hall whilst their friends toss rubble at them.
An embarrassing ordeal, the birthday boy is subject to rubble-shaped bruising until he can find a local girl and kiss her. And, as if this wasn’t enough, the birthday boy now has to stump up the cash for the birthday drinks for his mates. Ouch.
In the UK, there are some birthday traditions that have their origins in other cultures and the Jamaican culture of ‘antiquing’ is one of them. This is where the birthday boy or girl is doused in flour by their family and friends. It can happen as part of an organised birthday or, as in the case of the birthday tradition in Canada, the birthday boy and girl can be ambushed so keep your wits about you.
This is one tradition you will be aware of! The birthday piñata is filled with sweets and treats and the blindfolded boy or girl hits it with a stick to release all those lovely treats. We have a great range of piñata suitable for all age groups and different types too.
Unlike the other countries mentioned so far, Vietnamese don’t tend to celebrate their birthday on the given day, but enjoy a countrywide shared birthday known as ‘tet’, which is celebrated every year on New Year’s Day.
We think this is a lovely tradition but we can imagine that there have been some modern-day changes. In Ecuador, when a girl turns 15 there is a huge celebration and the girl wears a pink dress. The proud father puts on his daughter’s first pair of ‘heels’ and dances the waltz with her, along with 14 maids and boys.
Special birthday – aged 5, 10, 15, 20 and 21 – are called crown years and when it is a special birthday, the birthday boy or girl receives a large gift. There is a special birthday chair at the dining table, festooned with flowers, balloons and streamers. Children are encouraged to bring their school mate something to eat and for adults, they will take a birthday cake to share with their colleagues, a great idea that we do here at Party Bags and Supplies.
Instead of a birthday cake, Russians receive a birthday party, complete with a birthday greeting on the pastry lid.
In Japan, when children turn 3, 5 and 7 it is thought to be lucky and they are permitted to take part in the Shichi-go-san Festival which is celebrated on November 15th each year. During the festival, the child and their family visits places of worship, give thanks for good health and ask for a blessing that this will continue in the future. Their families then shower them with gifts, with the birthday child wearing their finest clothes for the celebration.
Birthdays are not the only things that we celebrate differently but what we did notice was that some traditions are borrowed from other celebrations and worked into birthday parties. For example, wedding favours are thought to have been the pre-cursor to the party bags and fillers that we often use to thank guests for coming to a party, even though not everyone is keen on this particular tradition.