9 Intriguing Birthday Traditions From Around the World

birthday traditions
From whacking a piñata to scarfing a slice of fairy bread, check out these intriguing ways birthdays are celebrated around the world. Photo by TEAM

North Americans have long-standing traditions when it comes to birthdays: People gather, eat good food and cake and receive presents. Paper streamers and balloons and maybe even a banner that says, “Happy Birthday!” make the place look festive.

Year after year, these traditions remain. Around the world, though, this scene might look a little different. Here are nine intriguing ways birthdays are celebrated around the world. 


You might want to watch out if you are in Ireland on your birthday. Irish tradition states that the birthday boy is to be lifted by his arms and legs and “bumped” into the air, once for every year old he is. This could get scary if you don’t trust your friends to hold you up.


Instead of everyone having his or her own birthday, every person in Vietnam is considered a year older on Tết, the Vietnamese New Year, which usually falls in January or February.


Some cultures call for a large birthday celebration, but traditionally, the Thai simply go to the temple to make merit (give a gift). To make merit is a Buddhist practice believed to help followers flourish in their current life and their next. In recent times, Thai people have begun to host parties similar to those depicted in movies from the West.


On birthdays in China, instead of eating cake or another type of sweet, the Chinese opt for long life noodles, which are supposed to promote a long, vibrant life. Just how long depends on how much noodle they can slurp into their mouths without biting. The more noodle the person gets, the longer life they will have.


Who needs cake when you could eat fairy bread? In Australia, celebrators eat bread that’s slathered in butter and doused with sprinkles in lieu of cake. It’s not certain where this tradition started from, but it is a favorite among children and adults.


The most important part of a Russian birthday celebration is the card. When writing the card, Russians are as sincere as possible, with wishes for health, success or love. Just writing “Happy Birthday” would be considered un-thoughtful and might hurt the recipient’s feelings.


To receive a birthday present in India that is wrapped in black and white paper is akin to being cursed, as it is believed to cause bad luck. Children often receive new clothes to wear for their birthday.


Typically, birthdays in Mexico start with going to be blessed by a Catholic priest, followed by a party with relatives and close friends. Childhood birthday fiestas include a piñata, containing small toys, coins or candy.


In Jamaica, people throw flour in the face of the birthday boy or girl, supposedly for good luck. People in the Western culture would just throw the flour into cake, cookies or brownies.

What birthday traditions do you have? Tell us in the comments below.

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About the author

Amber Potter

Amber Potter is a graduate of Maryville College, majoring in Writing Communication. She served as a Social Media Intern at TEAM. She has a passion for words, Jesus, and sunshine. When not working or studying, she enjoys spending time with her family.


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