When you picture birthdays, the first thing that pops up in your mind is probably the typical cake with sprinkles and candles blazing on top (as well as the accompanying booze). However, this westernized traditional birthday cake is not, shockingly (intended sarcasm), the norm in other countries. You might be surprised by how others celebrate their birthdays around the world.
1. South Korea – Seaweed Soup
No, it isn’t KBBQ, but you could definitely celebrate your birthday dinner eating the different kinds of meat they serve at a Korean barbecue restaurant.
Mi-yeok-guk (미역국), a hearty seaweed soup, is usually served as part of breakfast for the beloved birthday boys and girls in Korea. Mothers will also typically eat this soup after childbirth to replenish nutrients during pregnancy, so you better pay respect to your mother whenever she cooks this on your birthday because it’s delicious, healthy, and nutritious.
2. Russia – Personalized Pie
Shove that birthday cake off the table, because it’s pie time. On your birthday in Russia, you’ll be presented with a glorious homemade pie with a personalized message carved in the dough on top. These pies can be sweet or savory, but of course, it will ultimately be up to the birthday child. You can make your own cinnamon pie in your college dorm if you can’t wait until your next birthday to give this Russian tradition a try.
3. China – Longevity Noodles
In China, eating oodles of noodles, or Chang Shou Mian (长寿面) on your birthday symbolizes the oodles of life you’ll hopefully have. It’s an extremely intricate dish tailored to the taste palates of each household, but simply put, it’s an egg and chicken broth served over noodles. Your loved ones can also wish for your longevity, so bring everyone around the table and start slurping up those noodles of life.
4. Australia – Fairy Bread
There has to be something amazing if this special birthday food is called fairy bread. It’s an unbeatable combination of buttered bread and tiny Hundreds-and-Thousands (sprinkles is a more common term in America). It’s so simple, you can’t mess it up. If you would like to try this heavenly Australian treat, learn how to make your own fairy bread with a twist.
5. The Netherlands – Taarties and Pancakes
Who knew that adding an extra “A” to the word tart makes it a Dutch fruit tart? A popular birthday tradition in the Netherlands is to serve these taarties filled with different fruits and topped with fresh whipped cream. If you’re celebrating a crown year birthday (ages 5, 10, 15, 20, 21), you might be lucky and get some powdered sugar pancakes with this too.
6. Sweden – Princess Cake
For your majesty’s birthday, I present to you a traditional Swedish layer cake filled with marzipan (a sort of yummy almond paste), sponge cake, and a LOT of whipped cream. These princess cakes have fondant green tops and are sprinkled with powdered sugar. Breakfast in bed and this awesome cake for your special day? How can I say nej?
7. Ghana – Oto
This West African nation is known for satisfying the palettes of the spicy and soulful. Oto is a mash made of Ghanian yam and eggs that is fried in an onion-infused palm oil. A tradition is to cook a huge pot of this hearty dish and serve it for breakfast for everyone to eat. Don’t be shy about foreign cuisine because this amazing, flavorful food is far from “weird.”
8. Mexico – Arroz con Leche
We all know from our Spanish class that this is the one and only, RICE PUDDING! Besides hitting a traditional piñata at a Mexican birthday party, it is an absolute MUST to serve this warm and tender dish for the birthday child and guests. If you’re craving this tasty treat, learn how to make one here.
Not only is it really interesting to see how the people of other countries celebrate their birthdays, but it’s also extremely important to have an awareness and understanding for all cultures. Because the world would a more accepting place if everyone was. Can we all raise our birthday glasses to that?