Birthdays are celebrated all around the world in many different cultures. More than just the trivial celebration with cake and candles, a birthday is a day when friends and family gather to commemorate another year of a person’s life. For children especially, birthdays are important as they mark the long-awaited entrance into adolescence and adulthood. Western birthday traditions as we know them today originated in Europe several centuries earlier. At a time when most people were extremely religious and superstitious, they believed that a person was more vulnerable to malicious spirits on their birthday. By gathering to wish the person well and bless them, they believed that the person’s body and soul could be kept safe from any ill-intent. Today birthdays are tend to be more relaxed and fun events, but they are still celebrated according to some very different customs in various parts of the world.
- Brigadeiro (PDF) – Brigadeiro is a sweet chocolate confection enjoyed at Brazilian birthdays and other joyous occasions.
- Beijinho – Beijinho is a soft candy coated in coconut, which is also very popular at birthday parties in Brazil.
- Typical Brazilian Birthdays – A description of a typical Brazilian birthday celebration.
- Quinceanera – As in many other Latin American cultures, a girl’s sixteenth birthday is celebrated in a big way with a quinceanera, otherwise known as a festa de debutantes in Brazil.
- A General Guide to Danish Birthdays – Learn how birthdays for different ages are celebrated in Denmark.
- Danish Birthday Songs – In Denmark, there are a few different varieties of birthday songs that are sung at parties.
- Danish Birthday Cake – The traditional Danish layered almond cake is decorated with little flags and served at birthdays and weddings.
- Danish Kids Birthdays (see bottom of page) – Danish birthday parties are joyous events with friends and family gathering to celebrate together.
- Cake to the Face – In Ecuador, a local tradition is to push a piece of cake into the birthday celebrant’s face, a practice known as morder el pastel.
- Birthday Cookies (PDF) – A common treat at Ecuadorian birthday parties are a type of sugar cookies that are eaten with tea.
- Coming of Age – Turning fifteen is a very special occasion of Ecuadorian girls, marked by a special pink dress and other rituals.
- Sana Helwa Ya Gameel – Learn about the Egyptian birthday song, variations of which are also used in a few other Arab countries.
- Egyptian Birthday Parties – A hafla is a type of Egyptian party for birthdays that combines music and dancing, occasionally with prizes.
India – Read about the numerous birthday traditions practiced in India for children as well as adults.
- Payesh – Payesh is a rice and milk dessert that is typically made for birthdays and other important events.
- Indian Birthday Parties – Birthday parties in India are typically lavish affairs with heaps of food, gifts and good cheer.
- Birthday Celebrations in India - Brief description about birthdays in India.
- Irish Birthday Bumps – In Ireland, children are gently bumped head-first on the floor to ensure good luck in the coming year.
- Irish Birthday Phrases – Browse through some Irish words used at birthdays, along with their corresponding pronunciations and translations.
- Birthday Toasts – Toasts given at at Irish birthday parties contain well wishes with a hint of humor.
- The First Birthday – An infant’s first birthday in Korea is highly celebrated with gifts, food and blessings.
- Birthdays in Korea – Learn how clothes and food play important and symbolic roles at Korean birthdays.
- The Sixtieth Year – A person’s sixtieth birthday is also considered a very auspicious day for Koreans.
- One Hundredth Birthday – Read about Korean centennial celebrations and other birthday traditions.