What Are The “Important” Birthdays?

cake-birthday-candles-flowers-2-80a.jpgSweet Sixteen, Quinceanera, Bar/Bat Mitzvah (12 and 13 years old), are birthdays and celebrations we know the best to be special. But we also put a lot of emphasis on 18 and 21 too. All of these mark a transition from childhood into adulthood at different stages of our lives. Photo and Cake, Mamamousse.com

There are also other milestone ages to look forward to as you grow up. Marking the start of decades has a lot of significance to people. You always hear “turning the Big Four-Oh” and other phrases like that at turning 30, 40, 50 etc. These ages have more significance to some people as they enter that particular decade of their lives. Some throw a party at this point but may not make a big deal or even officially celebrate the years in between.

Other countries have birthday and age traditons that differ from the US. Deseret News had an interesting question posed to them and their answer shows you a glimpse into what other countries view as special ages:

“Question: Special birthdays such as the first, 21st (adulthood), and 100th (centenarian) are common, but around the world, what are some uncommon special ones?

Answer: Japan: 60, 69, 76, 77, 87, 89, 98 are traditional celebrations of longevity (“chojuiwai”). Ages 3 and 5 for boys and 3 and 7 for girls are also considered significant. (University of Hawaii’s Center for Japanese Studies)

In China, 30 signals adulthood.

And in several Latino cultures, a girl’s 15th birthday (a “Quinceanera”) marks this passage.

Many African cultures have coming-of-age parties in groups rather than for individual children, much like certain Lutheran or Catholic confirmation ceremonies.

Northern Germany: A man still without a wife on his 30th birthday sweeps the stairs of city hall to show he’s available and not a bad bargain since he cleans house well. An unmarried woman polishes her front door knob.

Northern Europe: Birthdays 10, 20, 30, 40, etc., are much-gifted “round” years, says University of California-Los Angeles folklorist Timothy R. Tangherlini.

Vietnam: Tet, the start of the lunar New Year, is considered everyone’s birthday. Babies turn 1 on Tet no matter the exact day they were born.

Korean babies are “1” at birth and turn a year older on lunar New Year’s, adds Tangherlini. “Tol” is celebration of the first anniversary of the birth, so a child born right before lunar New Year might be considered “2 years old” from day 3 through the next New Year. Sixty is most significant, marking a full zodiacal cycle and a full lifetime — “anything after that is icing on the cake.”

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