Birthdays Around the World

People look forward to birthdays!  

There's that sense of achievement when you finally earn another year of new experiences and adventures. A birthday is not only an occasion, it's a privilege, a gift that not everyone gets.  

As signs of gratitude and happiness, people all over the world have been celebrating birthdays in unique, interesting, and fun ways through birthday traditions!  

If you are looking for ideas on great birthday traditions or you simply want to know how others celebrate, here are some interesting birthday traditions from around the world. 

And remember, if something seems weird to you, it's likely not weird to those who hold the tradition dear.  It's just different!


Rainbow birthday cake for his birthday or her birthday

Birthday Traditions by Country

  • In Norway, it's a tradition to eat chocolate cake on birthdays.  
  • On their birthdays, German kids enjoy a cake with candles and presents. They get the privilege of not having to do their chores and homework. 
  • In Germany, single men over 30 are tasked with having to sweep the stairs of City Hall while their friends throw garbage at them. (Perhaps they do it once and vow to find a girlfriend?)
  • In Vietnam, people do not celebrate their birthdays on the day they were born. Both children and adults celebrate their birthday on a day called Tet, which is the first day of the New Year. (Can you imagine how big the birthday party must be?!)
  • In India, children wear new clothes on their birthdays. They are given a special meal and, as a sign of respect, they touch their parents’ feet.
  • Holland has special birthdays called the Crown Years, which happens on 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, and 21st birthdays. Kids celebrating these birthdays receive hot chocolate and lemonade as a treat.
  • If you are an Australian, your birthday will not be complete without Fairy Bread, a buttered treat with sprinkles on it!
  • If you happen to visit Jamaica and see people throwing flour at someone, it's probably because it is his or her birthday! It's a tradition in Jamaica to throw flour at the birthday celebrant. Also, Jamaicans believe that it is bad luck to marry someone on the date of his or her birthday.
  • Kids in Argentina get their ears pulled during their birthdays. The number of ear pulls depends on their age.
  • While the rest of the world gets icing on their faces, Canadians get butter or grease smeared on their noses.
  • In Russia, birthday presents and treats are hung on a clothesline. All they have to do is to pick them off like fruits in a tree! Russians also get a pie with their names on it on their birthdays!
  • In North Korea, no one is allowed to celebrate their birthdays on July 8th or December 17th as North Korean leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il died on those dates.
  • In China and in the Philippines, it’s important that noodles be present at any birthday party as noodles symbolize a long life.  It is said that the longer the strand that you slurp, the longer your life will be.
  • Koreans eat seaweed soup for their birthday breakfast.
  • In Italy, you are expected to open your presents immediately in front of the people who gave them to you. It’s considered rude to just put the packages to the side.
  • In Nepal, it's a birthday tradition to smear the forehead of the birthday celebrant with colored yogurt.
  • In South Africa, birthday celebrants who have turned 21 are given a key, which symbolizes that they are now responsible adults.

Whatever country you celebrate your next birthday in, we hope it's happy!