Travelling is about discovering foreign places, learning new things and embracing the cultures and traditions of people you encounter on your journey, however unusual they may seem. As we are celebrating our 10th Birthday, here are our Top 10 Birthday Traditions from around the World.
1. Happy Year in Vietnam
Vietnam does things a bit differently as everyone celebrates their birthday on New Year’s Day, or Tet, and not individually according to the day they were born. This allows you to share your birthday celebration with an entire nation on Tet and add one year to your age regardless of your actual birthday date.
Children in particular are congratulated and presented with a red envelope containing “lucky money” or li xi by their parents on the morning of Tet.
Chuc Mung Sinh Nhat!
2. Flour covered in the Caribbean
In a number of regions of the Caribbean and most commonly in Jamaica, you can expect to have any of your birthdays celebrated by having your whole body covered in copious amounts of flour by friends, family and random observers alike.
To make things more interesting, the unlucky ones even get doused and soaked with water before to make sure the flour is hard to get rid of.
3. Evil Clown in Switzerland
The third entry has got to be one of the strangest but also scariest traditions in the world you might want to know about.
Surprisingly this is becoming quite a common practice in Switzerland and more particularly in the city of Lucerne. Parents will hire an evil looking clown who will proceed to stalk and torment the birthday boy or girl, before finishing with a pie to the face for good luck.
This is all meant to bring health and happiness to the special someone, albeit in an ominous fashion, as the clown will sometimes proceed to stalk and call their victim on their phone for a few days before concluding with the pie.
Viel Glück zum Geburtstag!
4. Face in the Cake in Venezuela
If you are in Venezuela, you can expect to see people celebrating their birthday and then get their face plunged into the cake when blowing out the candles. Just like many other traditions around the world, this gesture symbolises a wish of love, laughter and luck for the coming year.
Nonetheless, there is a bit of skill involved in making sure the candles are off or well positioned to ensure safety.
¡Feliz cumpleaños! ¡Hoy Es Tu Dia!
5. Smashing cakes in the USA
Continuing the trend highlighting the different possible ways of using birthday cakes, a modern spin comes straight from the USA. You will see that parents bake extra cakes for their children to destroy, smash and throw and will let them make as much mess as they desire on their special day.
Although the new tradition was designed for children, one could argue that it would be as much fun for adults as well.
6. Bumped in Ireland
In the UK and more particularly in Ireland, a ritual is to hold the birthday person upside down and proceed to bump his or her head on the floor. The practice understandably becomes rarer as you get older as you can expect to be bumped once for each year of age.
Similar traditions exist around the world where instead of bumps on the head, you will receive smacks on the back plus one for good luck in Scotland and actual kicks in the butt in India.
Briethla Shona Dhuit!
7. Earlobes pulled in Hungary
Entry number seven is common around the world and is practiced to wish good luck and a happy life much like in the aforementioned Irish tradition. The Hungarian ritual is especially charming as following the opening of presents, you can expect to have every attendants tugging on your earlobes while singing a song translating as “God bless you, may you live long so your ears reach your ankles”.
Talking about being in your ears.
Boldog szuletes napot!
8. Sweeping the Front Steps of the Town Hall in Germany
In some regions of Germany, a long-standing tradition exists whereupon single men turning 30 are required to go and sweep the front steps of the Town Hall or church. The idea is to show how good you are at keeping your house clean and tidy to potential partners and the tradition also dictates you are not to leave until kissed by a lady.
On top of it all, you can expect to see your German friends mischievously trying to embarrass and toss rubble onto you as you are trying to get kissed to get out of the amusing ordeal.
Alles Gute zum Geburstag!
9. Hitting the Piñata in Mexico
A famous Mexican birthday tradition for children consists of hanging a Piñata (a colourful and decorated container often made of papier-mâché, cloth or pottery and filled with candy and small toys) before letting the blindfolded birthday boy or girl try to hit it with a stick.
Needless to say that the resulting candy showers will provide much delight to anyone attending the celebration, and not just the children.
¡Feliz cumpleaños! ¡Felicidades en tu día!
10. Nose greased in Canada
A tradition that still remains a little bit obscure even in Canada itself is the ritual of ambushing the unsuspecting birthday person and smearing his or her nose with butter or any other greasy substance for good luck. The reasoning behind this coordinated effort is to render you too slippery for any negativity or bad luck to get hold of you in the upcoming year.
You can however see how this would surely be fun regardless of the justification.
Happy Birthday to you! – Bonne fête à toi!