Birthday Traditions Around The World: North America
Image credit: FreeImages.com/Karen Barefoot

Every day, millions of people celebrate their own birthday traditions around the world. Although some customs may be similar, each country and culture has its own way of celebrating that makes it special.

How are you celebrating your birthday this year? If you live in the United States – as I do – your celebration probably includes candles on top of a delicious cake.

That said, I’ve always loved birthdays. A birthday is like having your very own holiday, complete with food, friends, family, and even presents!

But did you know you share your birthday with roughly 19 million other people around the world? That’s quite a lot of people, and not every culture celebrates birthdays the same way.

My curiosity got the best of me, and I began reading up on how other people in North America celebrate their birthdays. I hope you find these birthday traditions as interesting as I do!

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It only makes sense that we’d start from home. Here in the United States, many families celebrate birthdays with a party, cake, candles, and a song – specifically, the “Happy Birthday” song.

Once the song is sung, the birthday boy or girl makes a wish and blows out the candles. If they successfully blow out all of the candles, it’s said that their birthday wish will come true (which is especially true if they wished to eat cake)!

Many young women will celebrate their “Sweet 16” on sixteenth birthday. These parties are typically larger than your average birthday party and can be quite the big event!

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Birthday celebrations in Canada are very similar to the celebrations we have in the United States. There are parties, presents, cakes, and an all-around good time to be had by all. “Sweet 16” parties are also common in Canada.

One unique tradition I found says that, in some families, a wrapped coin may be hidden among the layers of the birthday cake. If you find the coin, you get to go first in all of the party games!

Another tradition is a bit more peculiar. In certain parts of the country – specifically Atlantic Canada – a child may be surprised by friends or family to have their nose “greased” with butter for good luck. Very interesting!

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The song Las Mañanitas is sung on birthdays in Mexico, but my favorite part about in Mexican birthday celebrations is the piñata!

If you’re not familiar with piñatas, you’re in for a treat! Usually made from paper maché in the shape of an animal, piñatas are filled with snacks and candies. Once they’re good and stuffed, they’re hung from a tree or the ceiling.

The birthday child is blindfolded and hits the piñata with a stick or bat until the piñata breaks, causing all of the candy to spill out onto the ground for everyone to collect.

Similar to the “Sweet 16” parties we have in the United States, when a young girl turns 15 in Mexico, a party is thrown to introduce her to friends and family as a young woman. It’s also celebrated with a “special mass in her honor,” and she will often share a waltz with her father. How sweet!

Just as every country has its own birthday traditions, so do many families. What birthday traditions do you and your family share? Let everyone know in the comments!

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