How the World Says 'Happy Birthday'
You’re another year older and it’s time to celebrate! Maybe you’ll have a chocolate birthday cake with vanilla frosting and candles and throw a party with all of your closest friends and family — but that’s just in America.
Americans wish each other a “happy birthday” differently than other cultures do. When we’re kids, we play birthday games and make a wish when we blow out the candles on the birthday cake, but in other parts of the world, there might not be candles on the cake, or maybe the cake is a pie or a fruit tart. The details vary from place to place, though most everyone celebrates in some way.
In Atlantic Canada, a coin is often hidden in a birthday cake and whoever finds it gets to have the first turn at party games. And as a birthday prank, the birthday kid’s nose is greased with butter or margarine for good luck (supposedly a greasy nose makes the child too slippery and bad luck can’t catch them).
All birthdays are celebrated on New Year’s in China (the date changes annually based on the lunar calendar, but is always in January or February). A long noodle represents a long life in Chinese culture, so everyone slurps bowls of long noodles during the birthday celebrations.
Sesame sticks and gateaux (small individual cakes) are treats that might be served at birthday parties in Egypt. And because birthdays are such a big celebration with lots of friends and family, there are usually two birthday cakes, one with birthday candles, one without.
Whether you’re turning 1, 21, or 50, the world celebrates getting another year older through different treats and traditions.
Pavlova and Fairy Bread — Australia
A fruit- and cream-filled layered cake called pavlova is Australia’s version of a birthday cake. And at birthday parties, kids snack on “fairy bread,” which is buttered bread covered in sprinkles.
Fried Plantain Chunks — Ghana
On their birthday, children in Ghana wake up to a traditional birthday breakfast called oto, a patty made with mashed sweet potatoes and eggs and fried in palm oil. And later for dessert, they’ll have a treat of fried plantain chunks known as kelewele.
Haley Willard is The Daily Meal's assistant editor. Follow her on Twitter @haleywillrd.