BIRTHDAY TRADITIONS AROUND THE WORLD

A S I A

India - On the first birthday of a Hindu child, he or she is tonsured. Removal of the hair symbolizes the renewal of the soul. The birthday boy or the girl usually wears new clothes and seek the blessings of their parents and elders by touching their feet. Many even visit a shrine and offer prayers. At school the birthday child wears a colored dress and passes out chocolates to the entire class. Meal may include spicy curry, chutney and rice pudding as the dessert.

China - When a Chinese girl or boy turns one year old, its a special event. A variety of objects and toys such as dolls, coins, books etc. are placed on the floor around the child. According to ancient beliefs, the object that the child picks up symbolises his pursuit in his life. In China people believe that tigers protect children. Family members bring newborns special food and present them with gifts of clothing or toys decorated with tigers. Clock as a birthday gift is considered unlucky. Noodles are served for lunch. The birthday child pays respect to his/her parents and receives a gift of money. Friends and relatives come over for lunch.

Japan - In Japan, the 3rd, 5th and the 7th birthdays are more special than the others. During these special birthdays they participate in the upcoming Shichi-go-san Festival (the "Seven-Five-Three" Festival) Celebrated annually on 15th November. Children visit shrines along with their families to thank God for their health and strength and ask to be blessed with continued well-being in the future. Girls and boys dress in their finest clothes.

Korea - In Korea on the 100th day after a child's birth (Paegil), a small feast is held to celebrate the fact that the child has survived the period. The family, relatives and friends celebrate with rice cakes, wine and other delicacies such as red and black bean cakes sweetened with sugar or honey. It is the popular belief that if the rice cakes are shared with 100 people, it will result in the long life of the child. Those receiving rice cakes do not return the empty serving vessels, but with skeins of thread expressing the hope of longevity, and with rice and money symbolizing prosperity. To prevent disaster and to bring the child luck and happiness, red bean cakes are placed at the four compass points within the house.

Nepal - A mixture of rice yogurt and color is placed on the birthday child's forehead for good luck.

Malaysia - The family members and friends gather together to enjoy food during the birthday celebrations. The birthday child is gifted with an "ang-bao" which is a small red packet filled with money. When the teenagers invite their friends to the birthday parties, they may sing together, dance or even play musical instruments.

Philippine - Early on the birthday, the family goes to hear the Mass and thank God. Birthday cakes of various shapes and sizes are baked. Celebrations include noodles representing long life, along with balloons and pinatas.

Vietnam - In Vietnam everybody's birthday is celebrated on New Years day. "Tet" is the name for the first morning of the New Year. On the first morning of Tet, parents, siblings, relatives and close friends congratulate children on becoming a year older by presenting them with red envelopes that contain "Lucky Money," or li xi. These envelopes are given to the children by.



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