Depending where you live or were raised, you might have certain expectations for birthdays. That may be hearing the Happy Birthday song sung in your honor, seeing the birthday child smash a cake on their first birthday, receiving some new clothes, or even eating longevity noodles in China, but this year, maybe you’re ready for a change? If you are looking for some creative birthday celebration ideas? Look no further. While the internet makes discovering the world and its wide scope of traditions easier, narrowing down which to adapt to your special day can be a little overwhelming. But fear not, we have gathered some fun and interesting birthday traditions from Korea all the way to Jamaica to help inspire any international celebration! Ready for a trip around the world in minutes? Let’s get this birthday party started with 10 unique ways to celebrate!
1. A Real Mexican Fiesta!
Odds are you’ve probably already heard the term piñata. This papier-mâché container filled in with sweets and other goodies easily adds excitement to any birthday gathering. Though originally Chinese, this tradition has traveled the world, eventually landing in Mexico in the 16th century, and is now a common theme in parties worldwide. People love to break the piñata with a bat or broomstick - basically anything to get to the sugary prize! Want to give your party-goers a chance at sweet victory? Make it by hand, or buy a premade paper llama, star or any other colorful shape and fill it with some goodies. Then let ‘em at it! The only thing left to do is wait and see who cracks it first.
2. Becoming a Woman - What Is A Quinceañera?
Another tradition that you might find in many Latin countries is a “Sweet 15 Quinceañera”, or in some countries also known as “Fiesta de Quince”. In Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador or Brazil - you’ll find that Quinceañeras can be as huge as a wedding! But what is Quinceañera? It’s a Latin “coming of age” tradition when a girl turns 15 - representing turning from a girl into a woman. It is a day full of family, friends, cakes and extravagant princess dresses. The ceremony itself can vary a little from country to country, but they all have one thing in common - for a young girl, it is the event of a lifetime. Do you have a sister, daughter or niece about to turn an eventful age? Why not take inspiration from a Quinceañera and go big for this milestone in their life? Surprise them with princess dresses and all, a crown or two and maybe some dancing! Whether you splurge for a new gown or second-hand shop for the day, one thing is certain - she is sure to feel special shopping for her own gown for this special birthday!
3. Breakfast Sharing In Ghana
What brings people together more than birthdays? Food. In Ghana, they take this to heart as birthdays are celebrated together with a popular dish of fried potatoes called “oto”. It’s normally a breakfast meal that a birthday person shares with friends and family members in the morning. People gather together around the bowl and eat the dish with their scoops, happily celebrating their beloved one’s day. Try preparing this dish for yourself or for someone else’s day - in the end, sharing is caring!
4. Fairy Bread from Australia
Now, here’s an idea on how to easily turn any birthday into a perfectly instagrammable party! Australian Fairy bread is a game-changer. So what is it exactly? It's super simple. Just take slices of white bread (important: the one from the supermarket, with no nutritional value whatsoever! Skip the fancy stuff.) slather them in butter and then - the best part - generously cover them in bright and colorful sprinkles. Cut them into pizza-style triangles and well, that’s basically the recipe! Easy-peasy, right? Birthday cakes take hours to bake. So why not enjoy this fun and joyful spin on supermarket bread instead?
5. Unique Birthday Dishes - Seaweed Soup From South Korea
We can’t really imagine a birthday without food, can we? Well, there is one fascinating birthday recipe that comes from South Korea called a seaweed soup - miyeok guk (miyeokguk) that boasts a deep flavor. Unlike the fairy bread, this soup is absolutely packed with nutritional value. So it is no surprise that Koreans enjoy it traditionally on birthdays as well as after giving birth for its restorative properties. So if you’re not a fan of sweet cakes, try this recipe and add some nutrients to your menu!
6. Canadian Butter-Nose
Birthdays in Canada can be quite funny...and slippery! The celebrator is often surprised with a swab of butter (or sometimes grease) on the tip of their nose. This can often result in a wild “goose chase”. Why butter? It is said to ward off bad luck. So while you may get a few odd looks, this tradition will inevitably add laughs to any party!
7. Flour Power or Egg Splash in Brazil
Speaking of wearing foods, in Jamaica or Brazil, it is quite common to cover someone with flour on their big day. Sometimes they take it even further and throw eggs! Our idea - just add some glitter to make it even more enjoyable for the birthday person… though maybe not to the eggs. Ah why not? Make a mess - have some fun!
8. The German Way to Celebrate
On the note of messes to clean up - Germany has quite a unique tradition when it comes to birthdays. When a single man turns 30, he has to sweep the town hall steps (sometimes donned in silly clothing) until a girl kisses him. Apparently, that’s supposed to prove that he’s eligible for marriage. It’s not only a unique idea to celebrate your birthday, but also a nice gesture for the city hall, right? Have a boyfriend or fiancé turning 30? Now is your chance to get him to do some tidying up.
9. Seeing Sarah - A Dutch Birthday Guest
Dutch birthdays can also be quite interesting - more specifically, the 50th. In the Netherlands, while turning 50, people refer to it as “seeing Abraham” (for men) or “seeing Sarah” (for women). If you’re the lucky birthday person, be prepared to see Sarah or Abraham in your yard as life-sized (or sometimes massive) dolls! Yeah...creepy right? If you think that these names are referring to the biblical Sara and Abraham, you are absolutely right. This tradition honors the knowledge and experience someone must have gathered by the age of 50. Not to mention, this day is quite a big deal, and it is celebrated accordingly, with a big celebration and a lot of fun (dolls included).
10. Happy Bhutanese Birthday, I mean, New Year?
For all those who can be a bit of a “Birthday Grinch” - this one is for you! Did you know that in Bhutan, most people don’t even celebrate their actual birthday at all? Many Bhutanese don’t even know their date of birth! Due to their calendar (which is a bit different from the Gregorian one) and administrative purposes, everyone just gets one year older on the 1st of January. So if you or your loved one don’t feel like celebrating, you really don’t have to! Just tell people that you’re choosing the “Bhutanese way” this year.
Celebrate With Birthday Traditions All Around The World
So if you are wondering how to make a birthday special, do yourself or your loved ones a favor and take inspiration from those who do it best. A little flour here, a touch of butter there, sprinkle in a princess dress and paper llama or two and you are all set - just don’t forget the gift! And what is more international than an eGift card? The perfect way to show the birthday boy or girl you care, from Ireland to Italy to India, is with a gift they can actually use. And Dundle makes it super simple. Just find a digital gift card your loved one will enjoy, select their region, and forward the emailed code or print it out to mail. Whatever you do, remember that it's all about celebrating your loved ones, from near or far! Good luck and happy celebrating!