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

24904 Folder Collection
稲葉白兎 published on September 19, 2014    Weishu Chang translated    Sunny Hsu reviewed
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