Birthday Celebrations Around the World

I have always been fascinated by the way people celebrate their birthdays and the reasons why people put emphasis on different birthdays, for example: celebrating a 21st birthday or a sweet sixteenth.  I was curious to find out why these traditions came to be. So join me today on a little trip around the world as we explore different countries/cultures and the birthdays they celebrate the most.

America – Sweet Sixteenth

This tradition originated many years ago as a coming of age or becoming an adult birthday.  It was when families put their child on display (especially for girls) for all to see that they were now an adult.  At sixteen you could get a job, pay your bills and start looking for a wife/husband. Although times have changed, the tradition has not.  Nowadays, This can be celebrated with a party at home, but some take it further with venues, DJs, gowns, hair salons, makeup artists and hotel rooms.  This is often an occasion to remember.


Bar Mitzvah

A Bar Mitzvah is celebrated by 13 year old, Jewish boys.  It is an occasion to celebrate that he will have all the rights and responsibilities of a Jewish Adult.  As part of the celebration they are expected to speak at the synagogue, possibly to call the Torah, say a speech or lead the service.  Once all the formalities are completed, then it is time for the party. This is often on a similar scale to a wedding. There is festive food, music and dancing.  The Bar Mitzvah is a tremendous milestone and marks the start of a vibrant Jewish life.


Chinese Birthdays

Traditionally, Chinese people reserve birthday celebrations for infants and elderly people.  Interestingly, when Chinese children are born, they are automatically 1 year old, whereas in western cultures they are 1 after being alive for a year.  The tradition is that the birthday child would slurp a long noodle until it is completed. Often people that could not be with the birthday child would do this too, to bring longevity to the birthday child.  More and more, Western cultures are creeping in e.g cakes and parties, but many keep the traditions alive.


Birthdays in India

Birthday celebrations can vary due to religions and cultures, but here are some ways that birthdays are celebrated.  The first is the cake feeding. The birthday child cuts off small pieces of the cake and feeds it to the guests, followed by all of the guests feeding the birthday child.  This can end quite messily. Typically a birthday starts at the temple, as early as 4 am, depending on the religion. Another tradition is to have dessert before dinner. These can be Laddu (a sweet ball) and it is delicious.  Isn’t it interesting some of the traditions that are around the world!


Turning 21 in New Zealand

The 21st birthday is often celebrated in New Zealand.  Although, you can do most things by the age of 18, 21 is when you officially become an adult.  Often you have a party with family and friends. One tradition, which is more common with male birthdays, is the yard glass or the ‘yardie’.  This is a tall glass (about a metre) of beer. The person having the birthday is required to drink it as quickly as possible. It is not clear where this tradition came from.  One theory is that a publican said ‘if you could drink a yard of beer, you would drink for free’. It will be interesting if this tradition is still around in years to come.


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This is an interesting topic and I could go on for a lot longer. It is interesting to see how birthdays are celebrated around the world and different ages that are considered a milestone.  I hope you have enjoyed reading this, as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

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emma houston

Hello I’m Emma

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