When celebrating a birthday, almost everyone sings the famous ‘Happy Birthday to You’ song by sisters Mildred & Patty J. Hill, which was published for a kindergarten songbook in 1893.
Aside from this and giving gifts, each country has its own way of commemorating a friend or family member’s day of birth owing to the differences in culture, religion, and social background.
So let’s now travel around the world and take a look at unique birthday traditions.
Birthday Traditions in North America
USA: The most popular practice in the world is for loved ones to buy a cake and put and light a candle on top of it. They’ll sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song for the celebrant who’s to make a wish and blow the candle.
Mexico: In Mexico, many people celebrate kids’ birthdays by setting up a piñata. A piñata is a craft animal or object filled with sweets and toys inside which the blindfolded children take turns hitting until it breaks open.
Jamaica: Their lively birthday tradition involves throwing flour at the birthday celebrant. Usually, it’s done when the person least expects it.
Birthday Traditions in South America
Brazil: The first slice of cake is given to the birthday boy or girl. But they don’t indulge in the treat at once. They share it first with their parents or with a special person.
Argentina: Here, birthdays are celebrated with delightful tea and crustless ham and cheese sandwiches. Also, it’s not uncommon that the celebrant will get an affectionate tug on his earlobe from loved ones.
Birthday Traditions in Asia
China: They sing their Chinese version of the Hill sisters’ ‘Happy Birthday’ song as well as eat a plate of extremely tasty long noodles, as they believe this gives them a long life.
What’s more, they have a unique way of counting one’s age. In China, a baby is considered already a year old the moment he’s born and another year is added every Lunar New Year.
While unusual to anyone living outside of the country, a reasonable explanation for this is they count the calendar years your life has spanned, not every cycle of 365 days that have elapsed.
India: Birthday celebrants here are the first ones to cut the cake into slices. They’ll feed the first ones to their family members and then to their friends.
Once this is done, the favor will be returned, and the guests will, in turn, feed the birthday boy or girl. So this practice often gets messy, but there can be a lot of rejoicing and laughter with that.
Birthday Traditions in Europe
England: When a person turns 21, they’re already regarded as an adult and thus, have to be given a key to the house. He can then come and go out of the house as he pleases.
Ireland: Along with the festive dancing, singing, and food, an Irish adult also practices an unusual birthday act. They turn celebrant kids upside down and very gently bump their heads on the floor—how many times that’s done will depend on how old they are.
Moreover, on their 21st birthday, they also get the key to the house, just like in England, Scotland, and South Africa.
Birthday Traditions in Australia
Australia: Kids having their birthday in Australia celebrate by eating fairy bread. This is a catchy name for bread with butter and candy sprinkles on top.
New Zealand: In New Zealand, there’s more after the cake is blown by the birthday person. They get a sequence of enthusiastic claps for every year they are old.