Birthday Traditions Around The World

Sending cards, gifts (and hampers!) and eating cake is a very British way to mark a birthday, but how are birthdays commemorated in other countries?

Having discovered many different customs that are traditionally observed, here are just a few of the unique and fascinating ways that birthdays are celebrated around the world.

Canada If you are celebrating your birthday in Canada you can look forward to something known as ‘nose greasing’, said to ward off bad luck. Friends and family take great delight in greasing the birthday boy's or girl's nose in butter.

Jamaica An unusual way to surprise someone on their birthday is a messy Jamaican tradition called ‘antiquing’. Just when you are least expecting it flour will be thrown all over you, not your average birthday treat that’s for sure!

China In China eating a plate of extra long noodles on your birthday is said to symbolise a long and healthy life.

Nigeria A person’s 1st, 10th and 15th birthdays are the most important events and are usually celebrated with large family parties.

Vietnam People do not celebrate on their individual date of birth. Instead, everyone celebrates together on ‘Tet’ which is the day of the Vietnamese New Year and everyone turns another year older. At least this way you wouldn’t forget anyone’s birthday!

Russia It is common to get a pie with your name on! A personalised pie, what’s not to love?

South Korea if you fancy swapping birthday cake for seaweed soup then head to South Korea for your birthday. Seaweed soup is served as traditional birthday breakfast as it is recognised as a symbol of gratitude for one’s life journey, continued health and overall wellbeing.

Italy It is important to make sure that you open your present straight away and in front of the person who gave it to you otherwise you will be seen to be acting in an extremely rude manner.

Ireland The Irish tradition of ‘bumping’ the birthday boy or girl takes place when an adult turns the child upside down and gently bumps their head on the floor. The number of bumps equals the age of the child.

Hungary Hungary’s beloved birthday tradition is ear pulling! A simple Hungarian rhyme ‘God bless you and live so long your ears reach your ankles’ is recited whilst the person whose birthday it is has their ear lobes pulled for the number of years they have been alive. Surprisingly, ear pulling is more popular than you would think! This birthday tradition is also embraced in South American countries such as Brazil and Argentina.

Researching this article has led us to discover many interesting and varied ways birthdays are celebrated and it was impossible to include them all. This small insight just goes to show how unique and diverse our wonderful world can be. 

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