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  • Hi I'm John Green. Welcome to my salon. This is Mental Floss on YouTube and IT IS OUR BIRTHDAY!

  • Happy Birthday us!

  • We even got you a cake! Actually, we got ourselves a cake. Hold on, I'm gonna make a wish.

  • I can't tell you what I wished for, but I can say that I sure hope Beyonce is a guest

  • host of Mental Floss next year.

  • So the Mental Floss List Show is officially one year old. Today, I'm going to talk about

  • some ways that people celebrate birthdays around the world in different cultures and

  • different religions. Plus, I'm going to demonstrate some of these so that we can properly celebrate

  • our birthday!

  • And for those of you who've been complaining that we've been a little bit USA-centric lately,

  • we're gonna get very worldwide today!

  • Let's start with the actual origins of birthdays themselves. They may have started with the

  • ancient Egyptians, like the Bible notes a Pharaoh's birthday, although it's possible

  • that could mean the date of the Pharaoh's death, like the day that he became a god.

  • The ancient Romans definitely celebrated birthdays, though, and were probably the first people

  • to celebrate their family and friends birthdays, not just those of rulers and gods.

  • In Denmark, a Danish flag placed outside the home means that it's somebody's birthday.

  • If it's a child's birthday, the presents are usually placed on or around the child's bed

  • so they can wake up surrounded by presents. That's nice! Sometimes a "cake man" or "cake

  • lady" is served, depending on whether the party is for a boy or a girl. The head of

  • the cake person is usually chopped off first, which I will now demonstrate. This was a camel

  • - And now it is a decapitated camel.

  • At birthday parties for children in Australia and New Zealand, you might find Fairy Bread,

  • which is white bread, butter, and sprinkles. By the way, the round and colorful sprinkles

  • are called "hundreds-and-thousands" there.

  • I'm now going to make some Fairy Bread because it is basically the perfect food so far as

  • I can tell. What I'm not an expert in? Butter spreading. All right, then you just. What

  • do you do, you just kinda - WOAH! Can you fold it up into, like, a Fairy Bread sandwich?

  • Is that frowned upon, Australians? I don't know, I'm gonna try it. Good!

  • At a Brazilian birthday party, people might pull the earlobes of the guest of honor. You

  • can also probably expect to see Brigaderio there, which are a kind of chocolate truffle.

  • Ear-pulling is also a thing in Hungary where there's in fact a rhyming song that accompanies

  • it! The translation is, "God bless you, live so long your ears reach your ankles."

  • Earlobe pulling is kind of similar to what other cultures refer to as "the bumps." The

  • bumps are especially common in the UK and Ireland where the birthday boy or girl is

  • lifted up and bumped on the ground once per each year they have been alive. The U.S. and

  • Canada also have a similar tradition, but with punches instead of bumps because we're

  • much more violent.

  • Another violent-sounding tradition in the U.S. are "smash cakes." These are small individual

  • cakes given to babies to do what they do best: make a mess of their food. I'm not going to

  • explain this one because you're on the Internet, so I assume that you've already seen how adorable

  • it is to watch babies destroy stuff, instead, I'm gonna demonstrate.

  • So I am a father, I've seen children do this a lot. Basically you just go in and you just..

  • Then you go... That's basically it.

  • In additions to punches, Canadians have been known to spread butter on the nose of the

  • birthday person. Mark, I know that you're Canadian, but please don't make me do this

  • one because I just finished cleaning myself up after the smash cake. Similarly, it's considered

  • good luck in Nepal to put colored rice yogurt on your forehead for birthdays.

  • Mexicans have a special birthday song, \'93Las Mananitas (aka "The Little Mornings") which

  • is usually sung at a party before the group eats cake. And of course, pinatas are a common

  • way to celebrate a birthday in Mexico. Although we usually think of them as Mexican, pinatas

  • actually originated in China and were used to celebrate New Years. It was Europeans who

  • eventually brought them over to Mexico.

  • In Ghana, a traditional birthday dish is oto - mashed yams with eggs and onions. In China,

  • Yi mein is commonly eaten on birthdays. In English, those are

  • Longevity noodles" or long life noodles." Also, be sure to avoid

  • giving a watch or a clock as a gift in China. Those are considered bad luck.

  • Celebrating individual birthdays is rare in Vietnam. Instead, all birthdays are celebrated

  • on the Vietnamese holiday of Tet, which is a New Years celebration. Children do receive

  • gifts though! Their elders give them red envelopes with money inside. Korea operates somewhat

  • similarly - first birthdays are celebrated, but subsequent birthdays are all celebrated

  • on the New Year.

  • Wishing someone "happy birthday" before their actual birthday is considered bad luck in

  • Germany. On someone's 16th birthday in Germany, they may have flour thrown on their head,

  • which may sound rough, but in Jamaica, throwing flour on the head is an every birthday tradition,

  • not just a one time thing. I'm not going to throw flour on anyone's head here, but I will

  • demonstrate with a doll.

  • Happy Birthday, Yoda. What are you, like, a thousand now?

  • Anyway, back to Germany...On 18th birthdays, the flour is replaced with eggs. And if a

  • man reaches his 25th birthday before he marries, his friends will hang a "sockencranz," or

  • sock wreath, outside of his house. The "old socks" are a symbol of his old age.

  • On that note, some cultures have different traditions for when people turn a certain

  • age. Like, you probably already know that girls who practice Judaism have bat mitzvah

  • when they turn 12 and boys have a bar mitzvah when they turn 13. Those ceremonies represent

  • a move into adulthood.

  • Let's finish up with some more age-specific traditions.

  • I'm sure you've also heard of a Quinceanera...especially if you were spending all of your free time

  • watching "My Super Sweet 16" in 2005. I'm not pointing any fingers, Meredith.

  • In South Africa, when a person turns 21, their parents present them with a key that symbolizes

  • responsibility and the future.

  • In Holland, they celebrate "crown years," which are the ages 5, 10, 15, 20, and 21.

  • On those birthdays, you get bigger presents.

  • The 1st, 5th, 10th, and 15th birthdays are the most important in Nigeria. Up to 100 people

  • might show up to those celebrations, which usually involve a feast.

  • For boys who practice Orthodox Judaism and Hasidic Judaism, the third birthday is important

  • because it's the day they receive their first haircut. In fact, that tradition has now spread

  • in Israel and doesn't always apply only to religious people.

  • Similarly, people from the Indian island of Minicoy shave their newborn baby's head after

  • twenty days. Then, the hair is weighed. Whatever the weight is will be given to charity in

  • silver or gold. That's not a birthday thing, really, we just thought it was cool.

  • And now I return to my salon to tell you that the Chinese also a special first birthday

  • tradition. The baby is placed in front of a bunch of objects, like books, flowers, stationary,

  • coins, and toys. Parents believe that the items the baby reaches for are indications

  • of future interests. So like if a coin is chosen, it's considered good luck and a sign

  • that the baby in question will one day be rich. We're going to try this out actually

  • with our office dog, Alex. All right now, let's see what will you choose. Umm.. It turns out Alex is beyond material possession. She chooses life

  • Thanks for watching Mental Floss on YouTube which is made with the help of all of these

  • nice people. Each week we endeavor to answer one of your mind-blowing questions. This week's

  • question comes from TheNightTroll13, who asks, "Why do we call a sixtieth of a minute a second?"

  • Well, NightTroll13, this comes from a Latin word, "secunda," which meant "second diminished

  • part" because the hour is divided twice by sixty - the first division of it is minutes,

  • the second division gives us seconds.

  • If you have a mind-blowing question you'd like answered, please leave it below in and

  • we'll endeavor to answer as many as we can. Thanks for watching and as we say in my hometown,

  • don't forget to be awesome.

  • That's a pretty strong pinata!

  • Aaaahhh! Finally!

Hi I'm John Green. Welcome to my salon. This is Mental Floss on YouTube and IT IS OUR BIRTHDAY!

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28 Birthday Traditions From Around the World - mental_floss on YouTube (Ep.201)

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