Are birthdays worth celebrating?
Birthday all over the world: There are these intercultural peculiarities
This article was updated on 06/08/2020.
To celebrate a birthday, every country has its own very special customs, which are usually based on a long tradition. The birthday is now celebrated all over the world and is always a special day for both the birthday child and the invited guests.
In Germany, for example, it is traditionally good form to celebrate a birthday with relatives and friends. Often there is an opportunity for coffee and cake or a late-night party. Even in the age of smartphones and constant internet connections, many Germans still attach great importance to sending out appealing invitation cards for their birthday.
In different cultures, people may celebrate birthdays differently, even in times of globalization. Even if the birthday is not celebrated individually: According to Vietnamese custom, birthdays are not celebrated there individually, but together. At the New Year celebrations, everyone ages “at the same time”.
No matter how it is celebrated: The birthday connects cultures everywhere, because almost everyone knows this custom - regardless of age, social class, gender and religion. That makes this beautiful day a very special occasion. The focus is always on spending time with your loved ones and showing the birthday child your love and affection. But how do other countries celebrate birthdays?
Birthday in Latin America
In Mexico and other Latin American countries, birthday children look forward to their piñata in particular. It is a colorful paper mache figure that is filled with lots of sweets and fruit and hung on a tree or pillar, for example. The birthday child and the other children can beat the piñata blindfolded to get to the delicious filling. The now world-famous piñata should not be missing, especially on children's birthdays. It is just as common in Latin America as it is for birthday cakes in Germany.
© sarymsakov.com - Adobe Stock
Still are Piñatas not only intended for the cradle festival, but can also be seen at many other celebrations. Creative hobbyists can also come up with all sorts of things when it comes to the shape of the figure - traditionally it would be a donkey shape, but there are also cartoon figures, stars or well-known personalities. The 15th birthday of girls in Mexico, Urugay and Argentina is of particular importance. The “Quinceañera” festival then symbolizes the transition from child to woman.
Birthday in South Africa
In South Africa adulthood comes with the 21st birthday. To symbolically transfer the great responsibility of coming of age, South Africans receive a key from their parents. This should open the doors of life for the birthday child - at least symbolically. That's why the key can be made by yourself.
Birthday in Denmark
The Danes make no secret of their birthday. Anyone walking past the house can tell by the specially hung Danish flag that someone is celebrating his or her big day in it. Incidentally, the Swedes also hang up the national flag on birthdays. Before the child wakes up, the family arranges all the presents around his bed at night. When it wakes up, it can go straight to unpacking.
Long life in China
In China there is traditionally no cake for a birthday, but rather long egg noodles (“Yi Mein”). In China, noodles stand for longevity. And when eating, the length should be maintained, so you don't bite off in between meals. The longer this noodle, the longer you will have a happy and fulfilling life. Another Chinese peculiarity is that people count the age from the moment of conception. This means that as a Chinese baby, you are already one year old when you are born.
By the way, there is one thing you shouldn't do in China: post-congratulate your birthday. Because that not only testifies to forgetfulness, but supposedly also brings bad luck.
Food battle in Jamaica
In both Brazil and Jamaica, the birthday is the reason for a strange prank: the birthday children are symbolically "dusted" according to their age: with flour. To be pelted with flour is definitely more fun for the guests than the birthday child, but tradition is tradition. Brazilian children go one step further and throw not only flour, but also eggs - every baker's nightmare!
© Martinan - AdobeStock
Similarly, Canadians are often "greased" on their birthday. The "loved ones" lie in wait for the birthday child and smear the nose with butter. This is supposed to keep bad luck away - so that everything will be fine in the coming year.
Christmas is also a birthday
The birthday should always be a very special day on which family and friends celebrate the birthday child, regardless of age, country and tradition. But not only the very personal day of honor is celebrated differently around the world. The Christian Christmas festival is also subject to a wide variety of traditions. Some customs seem downright bizarre. Most of those who celebrate Christmas should know that this is also a birthday. Namely the birthday of Jesus Christ probably more than 2,000 years ago.
Origin of the birthday party
The cultural and historical roots of the birthday celebration are likely to be found in Egypt and ancient Greece. However, the birthday was not an everyday celebration for the common people back then. For example, the Egyptians held the birthday party in honor of their Pharaoh. The Greeks, on the other hand, and later also the Romans, called guardian spirits on the birthday to protect the birthday child from bad things.
It was not until the beginning of the 19th century that the tradition of generally writing down and celebrating birthdays developed, because until then, many people often did not even know the exact day of their birth. Fortunately, this development took place quite early and gave rise to great customs.
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