Noodles on Your Birthday - Chinese Birthday Traditions and Superstitions


chow mien
Disclaimer: these are probably very dated, small town traditions and may not reflect modern chinese culture. Also, perhaps they are of pseudo-chinese-african-indian origin, I don't know. 
 
According to the Chinese tradition as taught by my superstitious grandmothers, here are the rules of birthday celebration. 
 
1. Eat noodles. Noodles are long. They will give you long life. 
 
2. If you're an adult, do not celebrate your birthday unless the Gods have told the nuns to tell you it's okay to do so. Celebrating your birthday on a bad year without the blessings of the Gods will bring you bad luck (and that possibly means death).
 
3. If you're an adult, do not have a birthday cake and absolutely do not have candle blowing involved in this party that you're not supposed to have in the first place. That will bring you bad luck (read death).
 
4. NEVER give someone flowers for your birthday or any occasion other than their death. Because cut flowers are dead, and anything dead is bad feng shui. Dead flowers what you bring to funerals, and hence bringing them to a happy occasion is like telling somebody you wish they were dead. It brings bad luck (read death).
 
5. There has to be a fifth rule because 4 in our Chinese dialect sounds a lot like death in said dialect. So I'll give you another one. NEVER wear all black or all white or purple to any birthday or other celebratory occasion. As you may have guessed by now, these are the colors associated with death and will bring bad luck (read death).
 
Since any celebration seems to increase the likelihood of you inviting bad luck (read death), it is therefore recommended not to celebrate at all and just have an ordinary day, and reflect silently on the fact that death hasn't caught up with you yet. 
 
On a brighter note, when you're a child, none of those bad luck rules typically apply AND you often get a little red envelope (called Fong Pao) with money in it. As to why the Gods only allow adults to be stricken by self-inflicted bad luck, perhaps it's because they should know better, or perhaps because they should be able to afford expensive prayer services to ward off evil spirits. 
 
If you've enjoyed this post, I have a few questions for you:
 
Did you also grow up with quirky birthday traditions? Tell me all about it! I want to know that my culture is not the only one with outlandish superstitions.
 
If you're Chinese, do you know about any of this or did the Mauritian Chinese nuns make this whole thing up?
 
Please share this with your friends so we can learn more about the birthday traditions and superstitions from cultures around the world :) 

--Sherry

2 comments

  • Steve

    Steve Oregon

    My dad is from Central Asia. In his tradition, older women spit on a child's hand and say the Kokojetsky [transliterated as best I could] around the birthday. It's supposed to ward off evil. I remember it as feeling like a tickle.

    My dad is from Central Asia. In his tradition, older women spit on a child's hand and say the Kokojetsky [transliterated as best I could] around the birthday. It's supposed to ward off evil. I remember it as feeling like a tickle.

  • 23rd Hour

    23rd Hour

    Ah that's a new one! Tradition has so many ways to ward off evil :) Thanks for sharing, Steve.

    Ah that's a new one! Tradition has so many ways to ward off evil smile Thanks for sharing, Steve.

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