There's nothing like a birthday to make you analyze your life. With another year gone, you think of how you've spent your time and vow to do better in the next year. For some, it's a time of deep rumination; for others, it's a time of renewal. Birthday superstitions can help drag you out of the birthday doldrums as you age, providing easy ways to boost your luck, find love and finally live the life you want before the next birthday rolls around. They also serve as the perfect way to help friends and family celebrate their special day and carry on traditions, many of which date back centuries. Before you celebrate your big day, check out these 10 birthday superstitions.
10: Birthday Love
Some old Southern traditions in the United States suggest the candles on a birthday cake can help you with your love life. There should be one candle on the cake for each year of life, of course, and if you manage to blow them all out at once, you'll be married within a year. Missed a few? Don't worry; just get as many as you can. The number of candles remaining lit tells you how many years you have until your wedding day. If you're not looking to get hitched anytime soon, you might not want to blow too hard, just in case.
9: Make a Wish
One of the most widely recognized birthday superstitions involves blowing out the candles on a cake, but this one has nothing to do with love and marriage. Instead, you're supposed to make a wish as you blow out the candles. If you get them all with one breath, your wish will come true — as long as you don't tell anyone what you wished for, of course. Obviously, this gets harder to do each year, as yet another candle gets added to the mix, so take a big breath to boost your chances for success. This custom may have originated in Germany, where people added an extra-large candle to the middle of the cake. Simply blowing out this larger candle meant your wish would come true.
8: Hidden Treasures
In a move that would spook health professionals everywhere, some superstitions call for baking objects inside a birthday cake. Despite the choking hazard they pose to an unsuspecting party guest, these hidden objects actually bring luck, wealth and love to those lucky enough to find them. One such superstition involves adding a ring to the mix before baking the cake. The guest who gets the slice with the ring baked inside will be the next to marry. If that person is already married, the ring simply provides a boost of luck. Another tradition requires adding a dime to the mix before baking. Whoever gets the slice with the dime will end up rich.
7: Don't Be Early
When you run into a friend who has a birthday coming up, it's only natural to wish that person a happy birthday in advance. In some parts of the world, however, your seemingly innocent wish is supposed to bring bad luck down on the birthday boy or girl. In Russia, for example, you should never celebrate a birthday until the actual day of the event. If you can't do it that day, wait until afterward to avoid bad luck. In Germany, even wishing someone a happy birthday before the day of the event is bad luck. Just to be safe, some superstitious folks in that country don't give children any gifts until the day after their birthday.
What if you forget your birthday altogether? While it may seem unlikely, some say it's actually good luck if you honestly forget to celebrate your own birthday [source: Daniels].
6: Don't Be Late
While it's bad luck in some cultures to celebrate too early, some superstitions suggest that offering birthday greetings at just the right time brings luck. If someone in the family is celebrating a birthday, give that person a call first thing in the morning and say happy birthday to maximize luck. Prompt birthday wishes are particularly important when children are involved; in this case, birthday greetings should be offered as soon as the child wakes up, before any other activities have taken place. If you have young kids eager to open gifts, this probably won't be much of a problem.