Noodles to Piñatas: Birthday Traditions Around the World

published May 18, 2011
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

For most of us, nothing announces a birthday quite like a huge frosted cake crowned with flickering candles. But what signals the start of celebration in China? Or Mexico? Or even Russia?

We’ve never heard of many of these traditions (thank you, Internets!), but like that most of them revolve around food:

China – Noodles are eaten to ensure long life.

England – A Fortune-Telling Cake is made with small trinkets baked inside. Whatever trinket you find in your slice gives you a glimpse of your future.

Japan – The birthday boy or girl is given an entirely new set of clothes.

Russia – Birthdays are celebrated with pies instead of cakes.

Brazil – Birthday children receive candies shaped like fruits and vegetables. A pull on the earlobe is good luck for the coming year.

Australia – Barbecues and fairy bread.

Germany – Candles are lit in the morning and burn all the way to the evening.

Mexico – Piñatas are filled with goodies and cracked open by the birthday girl or boy.

India – Colorful clothes and chocolate.

Are you familiar with any of these traditions? How did you grow up celebrating birthdays?

(Images: Flickr members geishaboy500 and quan ha licensed under Creative Commons)