Switzerland – evil clown

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In Switzerland they have a very strange tradition indeed. In fact, for the child, it must be pretty disturbing. The parents of the child hire an ‘evil clown’ which is dressed as such. It is hired to playfully torment their child and often throw a pie in their face. What a birthday treat that must be…

Venezuela – a face full of birthday cake

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In Venezuela they also take a pretty harsh approach when it comes the birthday celebrant. The birthday boy or girl can expect to have their head pushed into their birthday cake on their special day. So, there’s no need to get dressed up for this occasion…

Jamaica – throwing flour

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In Jamaica they have a very fun and lively celebration where everyone (excluding the person whose birthday it is) takes some flour and starts throwing it around. Specifically, onto the person – and sometimes they rinse them first so that the flour sticks and dries hard.

Germany – all the single men

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In Germany there is a special birthday tradition for all the single men turning who are 30. On this day (only if they are single) they have to sweep the local steps, for example, of the local church. Then, women can see what a good husband they will make…

Canada – buttered nose

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In Canada, the person whose birthday it is will usually have butter grease wiped along the bridge of their nose. The reason for this tradition is that the idea is that the negativity or bad luck cannot stick to them for the next coming year.

Denmark – an odd cake shaped as a person

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In Denmark they have a very particular kind of birthday cake, which is always shaped as a person. Then in a strange tradition, the head will be cut off the cake and given to the birthday boy or birthday girl. The rest of the body is served out to the guests.

New Zealand – ice cream AND sprinkles… on toast!

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In New Zealand they don’t have cake eat all usually. Or at least this is not the traditional treat here. Instead, they have ice cream and sprinkles… on toast. Okay this is highly unusual but something we definitely think is worth a try. Ice cream and sprinkles make anything good, right?

China – choosing a career

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In China on the child’s second birthday, they are surrounded with toys shaped as different things such as a tractor, an airplane, a toy doctors set. Then when the child picks up their first toy this is the career that they assume the child will follow through to adulthood with.

…And longevity noodles

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China also has a tradition with birthday noodles. When it is your birthday, you are given a bowl of noodles so that you can try and cram as many noodles as possible into your mouth to see how many you can fit. These are thought to be a sign of longevity.

Egypt – flowers everywhere

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In Egypt there is a lovely birthday tradition which that the celebrated day is full of flowers everywhere. The birthday boy/ girl’s house and cake will have flowers everywhere. Which is definitely a tradition we would want to replicate – and much nicer than evil clowns.

Russia – birthday pie

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In Russia it is all about the birthday pie – not the birthday cake like in many traditions. And it is not just a standard a birthday pie it’s more elaborate than you’d think. A message will be inscribed into the crust of the pie, personalised for you on your birthday.

Israel – natural crowns

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In Israel there is a love birthday tradition where the child whose birthday it is has a crown made from flowers and leaves placed on their head like a birthday kind or queen. Then, they also have a chair decorated in flowers and leaves like a throne.

India – shaving the baby’s head

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In India, it is tradition to have a public shaving of the baby’s head on their first birthday. They are then held over a fire made in a special ceremony. This is all done to symbolise a cleansing of their life, ridding of bad energy and negativity for the future.

Latin America – sign of womanhood

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Girls in Latin America have a special birthday on their 15th birthday.  They have a religious ceremony which is then followed by a huge party with lots of people. This 15th celebration is as a symbol that the girl has now officially entered womanhood.

United States – punches

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In the US birthdays are often elaborate. Infact the more individualistic our society gets, the more elaborate they are getting. But there is also a simpler tradition where the birthday boy or girl receives birthday punches or birthday pinches from friends and family.

Greece – superstition

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In Greece they are highly suspicious around birthdays, and it is a big no-no to say happy birthday on any day other than the actual official birthday date. So even if you won’t see that person on the day, or you are late, just don’t say happy birthday.

Germany – baking the cake

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In Germany, the person of the birthday one who is supposed to provide the cake for everyone else, rather than the other way around like in many countries. It is the person celebrating who shows thanks to their friends and families for celebrating their day with them.

Italy – midnight and presents

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In Italy, the birthday celebration is at the turning of midnight with the pop of bubbly, rather than when you wake up on the day of your birthday. They also have to open a gift as soon as it is received from that person – it is seen as rude to put it to one side.

Vietnam – a collective birthday

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In Vietnam birthdays are not seen of any great importance at all, with most people not celebrating them. This is because they celebrate together. Vietnamese New Year is the day everyone celebrated being a year older, when everyone is older together rather than individual birthdays

India – toss the baby

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There is something which sounds like a fairly extreme birthday tradition in India. This is the tossing the baby off the temple roof celebrate the birth of the new-born. It sounds dangerous, but the parents are standing below with a sheet to catch the baby when they fall.

Chinese women – 33rd birthday bad luck

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When women in China get to their 33rd birthday it is often not a celebrated occasion. The day of the 33rd birthday for women has become associated with bad luck. And so, the women must slice the piece of meat exactly 33 times and then discard of the meat to take all of the bad luck away

North Korea – forbidden birthday times

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In North Korea between the dates of 17th December or 8th July there is no celebrating allowed of any kind since two of their most celebrated leaders – Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il died on these dates. So, it has become a time that is respected and nobody with birthdays can celebrate.

Bhutan – birthday for all

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In Bhutan, many people do not even know what their individual date of birth because as a culture which prizes collectivism so highly, they celebrate one joint birthday altogether. Whereas in individualistic societies people celebrate themselves and their own day.

Australia – fairy bread

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Now this sounds like an extremely cute tradition. In Australia the birthday food that is most traditional to be served on someone’s day is fairy bread. Now this really sounds like it comes straight out of a Disney movie, and we all want to try it please.

Mexico – piñatas

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In Mexico this will come as no surprise, they have piñatas on their birthday. Now we are all familiar with this tradition and it had become popular around the world, but it all originated from Mexico. And the traditional shape of the piñata is the donkey.

Russia – a wordy card

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In Russia, it is all about the sentiment, about writing a long and wordy meaningful message. There would be no short and sweet ‘happy birthday’ as this is seen as not substantial. The card is seen as far more important than any present for a birthday.

South Korea – seaweed soup

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In South Korea it is considered a delicacy and a birthday tradition/treat to have seaweed soup on your special day. This soup is thought to be extremely packed with goodness and vitamins and so it is given on this day to give the person strength.

Italy/Germany – generosity

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In Italy and Germany and some other European countries, the person who is celebrating their birthday is the one that shows generosity to others and treats everybody to drinks/ food. Unlike many cultures such as the US where it is the other way round.

Netherlands – birthday Taarties

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In the Netherlands they have what are called birthday Taarties for their yearly celebrations – which is a special kind of tart. They are served with whipped cream. Which sounds like a lovely alternative to cake which is served in most places.