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Celebrating another 365 days around the sun can feel especially monumental as an expat. But with all the other things to learn about in your new home, you might overlook the local birthday traditions. We’re here to talk local traditions, so you know how to celebrate like a local whether it’s your birthday or one of your new friends.

Canada

Get prepared for your nose to rubbed with butter or other greasy substance on your birthday in Canada! Friends will attempt to surprise you by smearing butter on your nose on your big day, to ensure that negativity and bad luck slides right off your for the next year.

China

Chinese birthdays are celebrated with a number of local traditions. Children’s birthdays are celebrated with gifts decorated with tigers, as they are a symbol of strength and protection. This is especially true for first birthday gifts. At any Chinese birthday party there must be noodles, as they symbolise a long life. And no one should ever give or receive a clock as a birthday gift in China as its considered bad luck.

Germany

The lucky birthday celebrant in Germany can relax, with no chores or homework. And Germany is credited as the home of birthday parties (Kinderfest) so be sure to expect an excellent celebration!

Children’s birthdays are celebrated with two very specific traditions: a birthday wreath made of wood is decorated with a candle for each year of their age and placed in the centre of the table. And everyone feasts on geburtstagoten – a special bread/cake made for birthdays, in the shape of the baby Jesus.

There’s one very unique birthday tradition for single men turning 30 in Germany: the birthday man is expected to sweep the stairs of the town hall, only finishing when they receive a kiss from a woman. It is supposed to show off your home keeping skills, in an attempt to attract potential partners!

Hungary

The Hungarian tradition is based in wishing the birthday celebrant good luck and a happy life. After you’ve opened your gifts, you can expect to have your earlobes rubbed and pulled by everyone there to celebrate with you! Your guests will each tug on your earlobes whilst singing a traditional birthday song. The lyrics of the song translate roughly as: ‘God bless you, may you live long so your ears reach your ankles’.

Ireland

If it’s your birthday in Ireland, get ready for the bumps! Friends and family will hold you upside down by the legs and ‘bump’ your head on the floor, one bump for each year of your life. This is more common when celebrating a child’s birthday, as it gets a little harder to perform as you grow!

Jamaica

In Jamaica, and across the Caribbean, birthday celebrants are covered from head to toe in a lot of flour! On your birthday expect to be doused in flour by family, friends and strangers, as everyone comes together to celebrate in this uniquely Caribbean way.

Mexico

No Mexican birthday would be complete without a celebratory Piñata. The birthday person is blindfolded and then must hit the colourful Piñata with a stick, in attempts to get at the candy and gifts inside.

Switzerland

This tradition is one of the most unique! Be prepared to be scared on your birthday in Switzerland: parents or friends hire a scary clown to follow the birthday celebrant, tease and torment them, culminating in a pie to the face for good luck!

Vietnam

In Vietnam everyone celebrates their birthday at the turn of the new year, there is no individual celebrations to mark the day of your birth. Tet (the New Year) is when everyone celebrates another year, with both adults and children giving and receiving small red envelopes filled with money. As they celebrate the new year, everyone adds another year to their age, irrespective of when they were born.

If you’re looking to get to know your new home, or are about to relocate, our experts help you settle-in faster. At Santa Fe Relocation our moving specialists can help with everything from logistics, to understanding local culture.

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