B-day Celebrations

Why do people think that the double-digit birthday is such a big deal?

You know, I’ve always wondered why people make such a big deal on the double-digit birthday. It’s just something I’ve known as a child, a thing I’ve known since I was born. Yeah. It’s like common knowledge for Americans. I think that everyone just knows it. Every child I’ve been friends with basically knows. Is it just an American thing? Honestly, for Asians, it’s more seven and 60. I mean, it is like a whole new lifeline, since you become more mature, or at least you feel more mature. As you probably know, I’m Chinese-American. My parents are Chinese, whereas I’m American. 

The Chinese way to celebrate birthdays: the first birthday party of a Chinese child takes place when he/she turns two years old. Parents celebrate a birthday by surrounding a child with symbolic items such as a toy airplane, an abacus, a flute, etc. And these items are the attempt to predict the future of the child. Likewise, seven has both positive and negative connotations in Chinese culture. For the positive side, 七 (seven) sounds like both 起 (qǐ), which means “start” or “rise,” and also 气 (qì), which means “vital energy.” Seven is also seen as a lucky number for relationships. Honestly, Americans take a liking to the birthday leading to the double-digit.

An amazingly surprising thing about Chinese birthdays is that they DON’T eat cake as we do. I know right, WHAT? But here’s the reason why: different cultures eat differently. In the Chinese way, they prefer to eat healthier things. 

Chinese people don’t really make such a big deal on their birthdays. While nowadays, young people in China celebrate their birthdays every year like in the West, traditionally, not much importance was attached to your birthday in China. After celebrating three birthdays – 30 days, one year, and six years, no birthday was given any special attention until you were 60. It’s fascinating, isn’t it?

For Chinese people, they zoom in more on the year of whichever animal, rather than the value of the year. But for Americans, they prefer to focus on the value, and what age one is turning.

Now, let’s focus on the types of Chinese years. There are many, 12, actually, based on the year that one is born. There’s the rabbit year, the tiger year, the lamb year, the monkey year, the mouse year, the horse year, the dragon year, the snake year, the dog year, the chicken year, and the pig year. I’m born in the tiger year, and so is my mom, but unfortunately, my dad’s born in the lamb (ram) year. I’ve already mentioned that I’m born in the tiger year (as is my mom), and, well, my mom has a tendency to be obstinate, as do I. So, some people carry on the traits that their animal year has captivity.  

This essay explores different ways that different cultures celebrate their birthdays, as well as how they differ from each other in each and every way. I want to make it clear that every culture has a different way of celebrating birthdays. I was hoping that this essay can give ideas on how people do things differently.

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