Birthday Celebration Around The WorldBirthday parties are always among the highlights of a child's year, but did you ever wonder how the tradition of birthday parties started?
The tradition of birthday parties started in Europe a long time ago. It was feared that evil spirits were particularly attracted to people on their birthdays. To protect them from harm, friends and family would to come be with the birthday person and bring good thoughts and wishes. Giving gifts brought even more good cheer to ward off the evil spirits. This is how birthday parties began.
At first it was only kings who were recognized as important enough to have a birthday celebration (maybe this is how the tradition of birthday crowns began?). As time went by, children became included in birthday celebrations. The first children's birthday parties occurred in Germany and were called Kinderfeste.
Africa - Initiation Ceremonies. In various African nations they hold initiation ceremonies for groups of children instead of birthdays. When children reach a certain designated age, they learn the laws, beliefs, customs, songs and dances of their tribes.
Argentina - Dance the waltz at 15. When girls turn 15 they have a huge party and dance the waltz with their father and other boys.
Bolivia - Dance the waltz and wear white. At the age of 16 the birthday girl wears a white dress and dances the waltz with her father and other boys.
Brazil - Pulls on the earlobe. The birthday child receives a pull on the earlobe for each year they have been alive. The birthday person also gives the first slice of cake to his/her most special friend or relative, usually mom or dad. At the age of 15, the girl dances a waltz with staring with her father and grandfather. She dances with a total of 15 partners each symbolizing a year of her life.
Canada - Greasing the nose with butter or margarine on Birthday . In Atlantic Canada (Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland) the birthday child is ambushed and their nose is greased for good luck. The greased nose makes the child too slippery for bad luck to catch them. This tradition is reputed to be of Scottish decent. Birthday punches. In Quebec the birthday person receives a punch for each year they are alive and then one for good luck.
China - Noodles for Lunch. The birthday child pays respect to his/her parents and receives a gift of money. Friends and relatives are invited to lunch and noodles are served to wish the birthday child a long life.
Cuba - Food, music, pinatas and lots of people. The celebrations are very similar to the United States; food, decorations, gifts, pinatas, cake, candles, "happy birthday" song and games. But a lot of people are invited including neighbors, friends, co-workers and family even if they don't have kids around the birthday child's age.
Denmark - Flying Flags. A flag is flown outside a window to designate that someone who lives in that house is having a birthday. Presents are placed around the child's bed while they are sleeping so they will see them immediately upon awakening.
England - Fortune Telling Cakes and Bumps. Certain symbolic objects are mixed into the birthday cake as it being prepared. If your piece of cake has a coin in it, then you will be rich. Also, when its your birthday your friends give you the "bumps" they lift you in the air by your hands and feet and raise you up and down to the floor, one for each year then one for luck, two for luck and three for the old man's coconut!
Germany - Candles left burning for the day. A member of the birthday person’s family wakes up at sunrise and lights the candles on the birthday cake. There are as many candles as the years of age of the birthday person plus one for good luck. The candles are left burning all day long. After dinner that night then everyone sings the birthday song and the birthday person blows out the candles. If all of the candles are blown out in one try then the wish of the birthday person will come true. Presents are then opened and the party starts.
United States - Cake, candles and song. A cake is made, and candles are put on top based on how old the person is. Then everyone sings the "happy birthday" song, and at the end of the song, the birthday child blows out the candles. If they blow them all out with one blow, their birthday wishes will come true.