What Are Important Birthdays in Your Culture?

My friend Ray Lee from Hong Kong told me that 60 is an important birthday in the Chinese culture.

In the US, I’d say the following birthdays are important…

1 – because it’s the first
18 – because it’s when you’re officially an adult
21 – because it’s when you can legally drink alcohol (i.e. you have all the rights of an adult)
All of the “0” ages… 30, 40, 50, etc.

40 is somewhat more important because it’s considered when you’re middle aged.

And I’d say once someone reaches 85 or 90, every birthday is important.

Feel free to comment below and let us know which birthdays are important in your culture!


This article was posted on Monday, May 1st, 2006 at 8:55 pm and is filed under Birthdays, China, Countries & Cultures, Customs and Traditions, Gift Giving, Holidays Around the World, Hong Kong, Mama Lisa, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

9 Responses to “What Are Important Birthdays in Your Culture?”

  1. Monique Says:

    In France, I’d say these are special birthdays :

    1 – because it’s the first
    18 – because it’s when you’re officially an adult (it’s when you can legally drink alcohol and drive a car -more important)
    20 – because you’re now the youngest “0”-aged adult you’ll ever be. There’s an old song from 1934 that goes:

    “On n’a pas tous les jours vingt ans
    Ça nous arrive une fois seulement
    C’est le jour le plus beau d’ la vie…”

    Literal translation:
    “We aren’t 20 years old every day
    It only happens once to us
    It’s the most beautiful day of life…”

    All the “0” ages… 50 being the most important, maybe because it’s half of 100 and it’s considered you enter “l’âge mûr” = maturity.

  2. Lisa Says:

    Re, the driving age, in the US the driving age varies by state. So there isn’t a country-wide birthday that’s important in regards to getting a license.

    In NY, I believe people can get their licenses when they’re 17, but have to drive with an adult with a license until they’re 18.

    My neighbor, who’s in her 90’s said her mother drove around without a license for a couple of years. But that was way back when, when they were just starting to have cars and licenses!

  3. Ray Says:

    Since I am in the retirement/pension business, I’d say 65 is important since it is the normal retirement age. By the way, the retirement age of 65 is totally arbitrary. Someone (I think in Germany) simply picked that number out of his #@!$. I once did some research on this when I was in Stony Brook.

  4. Devon Says:

    Checking in from Japan where the 20th birthday is a big deal. 20 is the official beginning of adulthood and its’ attendant benefits…drinking, smoking, and voting.

    The second Monday in January is a National holiday called Coming of Age Day (Seijin no Hi). On that day, municipal governments around Japan hold ceremonies for residents turning 20 that year. Men wear suits and women wear a particularly formal type of kimono. In recent years the media has had a field day reporting on disturbances during and after these ceremonies caused by drunken, beligerent coming-of-agers, but for the most part, they are respectful affairs.

    3, 5, and 7 are also milestone ages as the Japanese celebrate “shichi-go-san (7-5-3)” on November 15th. Read more about shichi-go-san here: http://web-jpn.org/kidsweb/calendar/november/shichigosan.html

  5. Lisa Says:

    I found out why 60 is an important birthday in the Chinese culture. It’s because it represents a full cycle of the Chinese calendar, which takes 60 years to complete.

  6. Lisa Says:

    I just remembered about a birthday tradition in the US mainly for parties celebrating the decade birthdays starting with 40 – that is to decorate with black to symbolize death, but as a joke. You might use black candles on the cake or hang black streamers. Sometimes people will put RIP (Rest in Peace) signs up as a decoration. The gifts can be joke gifts using the same theme.

  7. Julie Says:

    I would have included 13 and 14. 13 being the age I was offically a “teen”-ager (as in thir”teen”), and 14 because I began high school. Oooooh… that was big for me.

  8. jack Says:

    what about sweet sixteen?

  9. Lisa Says:

    Of course, you’re right! Many people in the U.S. have special parties for their daughter’s 16th birthday, called Sweet Sixteen.

Leave a Reply