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Love, Strange

Strange Birthday Rituals + Happy B-Day Elvis and Bowie

Today, January 8th, is the birthday of Elvis Presley and David Bowie. There was nothing obvious on their websites I could see about that fact today, but I had a few bites of cake for the King and for Bowie and watched some Bowie videos.

This cake is gluten free with a real beeswax candle. A card, a cake, a candle, a gift, the birthday song, these are all part of my basic American Birthday ritual.

I imagine that my birthday today will always be a bit sad for my remaining years because it is also the day I proposed to my late fiance on a beach at sunset on the island of Maui and I miss her very much. Today I updated the web site I made with her quotes, the lonelyshoe.org.

Even if you spend your entire birthday alone, keep the chin up, have a ritual, enjoy a little. Go easy on the sugar, though. I offset this cake with 135 push-ups today. I was trying for 500. It sounded easy this morning when I had all day… still 20 minutes to midnight… but gravity feels stronger than usual. Could I make 500 in a day by the end of one week? My birthday ritual, starting this year, is to do as many push-ups during that day as possible.

Here are the world’s strangest birthday rituals:

Canada: Nose Grease

On the Atlantic side of Canada, birthday boys and girls are sometimes “ambushed” and their noses are greased, usually with butter, to ward off bad luck. …

China: Long Noodles for Longevity

Chinese birthday tradition maintains that one should symbolize their longevity by eating a plate of long noodles, slurping them in as far as possible before biting. …

Germany: Sweeping the Streets of City Hall

When single men in Germany turn 30, an old tradition is for them to sweep the steps of their local city hall as their friends toss rubble onto them. The ordeal, meant to embarrass, is supposed to carry on until the birthday boy is able to plant one on a passing woman. …

Ireland: Hit the Deck

… Tradition maintains that a child is held upside down and is “bumped” on the floor, once for every year of their age plus one for good luck.

Jamaica: Modern Day Antiquing

… Jamaicans think dousing their friends with flour is fun. Regardless of age, tradition calls for the birthday boy or girl to be “antiqued,” or coated with flour, by friends and family, either at an organized party or as part of an ambush.

Mexico: The Birthday Piñata

Mexicans… have what is in my opinion the most fun tradition for children: The birthday piñata filled with candy. Grab a blindfold and a broomstick, and let the celebration begin.  …

Vietnam: Happy… New Year?

Everyone celebrates their birthday on New Year’s Day in Vietnam, a day they refer to as “tet.” Vietnamese tradition is that the actual day of birth is not to be acknowledged. Rather, people become a year older every year at tet.


In Switzerland, A Clown Stalks You All Day Long

For a fee, Dominic Deville will pseudo-terrorize your child (in the form of “menacing” phone calls, texts, and letters) for the week leading up to their birthday. Then, on the day itself, he’ll show up in person and smash a cake into their face. Don’t worry: as macabre as it sounds on paper, it’s all in good fun, more in the spirit of a good-natured Halloween prank. And parents can always call it off if their kid gets too freaked out, but apparently most kids “love it” according to Deville.

In Russia, Ghosts Return Stolen Objects To You On Your Birthday

In certain parts of Russia, birthdays aren’t just about gifts. Sometimes, they’re about objects you already own being wrapped up (by ghosts) and presented to you as new offerings. It’s customary for Russian spirits to confiscate the possessions of misbehaving children or family members, but if the person is good all year long, the possibility those possessions will be returned to them on the week of their birthday increases. The fun is therefore all in the mystery: the child has to guess which brightly wrapped packages contain new toys, and which contain old toys recently in the possession of malevolent spirits.


There is also Birthday Pie. You’ll eat birthday pie in Russia, where a special message is scratched right into the crust.


In Australia, They Eat Fairy Bread

Most birthday parties are barbecues in Australia. Instead of cake, they eat Fairy Bread. It’s buttered bread covered in sprinkles.

In Denmark, Kids Wake To Scattered Presents

Children in Denmark wake up to find their presents scattered around their bed. Parents place them there as they sleep. It’s also tradition to hang up a flag outside so everyone knows someone is having a birthday.

In England, Objects Are Baked Into Cakes

Birthday cake is eaten cautiously in Great Britain. Since medieval times, it has been tradition to put small trinkets inside the birthday cake. Coins, candies and little figures are still baked inside birthday cakes and that’s a clear choking hazard. If you manage to reach 100 birthdays in England, the Queen will send you a telegram to wish you a happy birthday.

In Holand, It’s Birthday Pancakes

The birthday cake in Holland is actually pancakes, which are sprinkled with powdered sugar and usually served with hot chocolate or lemonade.

In North Korea, Some Birthdays Are Purposely Celebrated On the Wrong Day

You are not allowed to have a birthday on July 8 or December 17 in North Korea because Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il died on these dates. This means that more than 100,000 North Koreans celebrate their birthdays on the wrong days.

In Japan, You Get Dressed Up In New Clothes

It’s tradition to get dressed up in totally brand-new clothes every year for your birthday in Japan.

In India, You Give Presents On Your Birthday

Children in India give presents to other people on their birthdays. They pass out chocolates to their classmates and visit a shrine in order to receive a blessing during the day. Instead of cake, the birthday boy or girl eats doodh pak, a sweet rice pudding.


These were all news to me. I’m sure there are many more. Let me know in a comment if you have other favorites.

Also, Happy Birthday to you, in case I forgot to say it to you personally. I’m not good about such things.


About Xeno

E pluribus unum.


One thought on “Strange Birthday Rituals + Happy B-Day Elvis and Bowie

  1. Happy birthday to you too, Xeno 🙂

    Posted by Soul Gifts | 9 Jan 2018, 2:51 am

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