More Wacky Birthday Superstitions
5: Starting Over
In some extremely lucky cultures, people are given the opportunity to become a kid again when they reach a certain age. When a man reaches the age of 61 in Japan, he enters his kanreki, or second childhood. He must wear a red hat and red vest to symbolize his return to childhood. From this point on, all his troubles are forgotten, and he is given the gift of a clean slate, or a rebirth of sorts. In Korea, this tradition occurs when you reach the age of 60. On that special birthday, people can return to the year they were born and essentially start anew.
4: Ear Pulling
Like the Americans and their tradition of birthday spankings, the Italians have a bizarre custom for celebrating a birthday by tugging on the ear lobe. The superstition stems from the idea that long ears are seen as a symbol that you will live a long life. To increase the length of the earlobes, at least symbolically, you should give your earlobe a slight tug for each year of life. You can also ask a trusted friend or family member to help with the tradition. Performing this ritual is said to bring good luck in life and in the year to come [source: Malossini].
3: Death and Marriage
A birthday might be a perfect day for cake, presents and a party, but there are some things you simply shouldn't do on your big day, at least according to superstition. For example, getting married on your birthday is a definite don't, thought to bring bad luck in love. While you're at it, avoid marrying anyone whose birthday is in the same month as yours, as it's sure to mean a stormy marriage. Luckily — maybe — your birthday is seen as an excellent time to die. Sure, you're dead, but dying on your birthday means your salvation is practically guaranteed, if that's any comfort.
2: Food Fables
Various cultures believe that noshing on certain foods on your birthday can bring luck, while others list certain foods you should avoid as you celebrate. In China, snacking on vermicelli brings good vibes, as does a nice meal of primroses. A cake shaped like a peach is also seen as a lucky symbol, while people in India believe it's bad luck to consume salt on your big day [source: Daniels]. The Pennsylvania Germans may have the most delicious rule regarding birthday cuisine; tradition requires you to eat a doughnut for luck on your birthday, which guarantees you will live another year.
1: Predicting Personality
Some superstitions claim that your personality can be determined solely by the day you were born. If you buy into this legend, you'll agree that being born on a Monday gives you good looks, while a Tuesday birth leaves you "full of grace." Other days of the week come with more negative qualities, such as woe, or a long way to go. It's likely that this superstition has Christian origins, since it saves the very best qualities for the child who enters the world on a Sunday [source: Webster]. Of course, there's absolutely no evidence that the day you're born has any impact on personality, no matter how catchy the poem.
Author's Note: 10 Wacky Birthday Superstitions
After more than eight years as a writer, this was one of my most difficult articles to research. That definitely surprised me, as it seems like such a simple topic. The truth is, beyond blowing out the candles and making a silent wish, I knew of very few birthday superstitions. Sure, there are plenty of traditions out there, but many of them couldn't really be described as superstitions. In the end, I had to dig a little deeper into the past and incorporate both regional and international birthday superstitions. What drew me in while writing was the pure romance and nostalgia of baking a ring or coin into a cake — imagine if someone were to do that today — hello, lawsuit! I was also enchanted by the Asian custom of starting over when you reach a certain age. If it were up to me, everyone would get such a chance.
- Brown, Ju. "China, Japan, Korea." 2006. (Jan. 5, 2015) https://books.google.com/books?id=3r-3YH3t45cC&dq=china+birthday+traditions&q=korea+60#v=onepage&q&f=false
- Carroll, William. "Superstitions: 10,000 You Really Need." Coda Publications. 1998. (Jan. 5, 2015)
- Daniels, Cora Linn Morrison and Charles McClellan Stevens. "Encyclopaedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World." J. H. Yewdale & Sons Co. 1903. (Jan. 5, 2015)
- Fogel, Edwin Miller. "Beliefs and Superstitions of the Pennsylvania Germans." Penn State Press. 2009.
- Malossini, Andrea. "Italian Superstitions." 2013. (Jan. 5, 2015) https://books.google.com/books?id=3g8dv0cPHsIC&dq=birthday+superstitions&q=earlobe#v=onepage&q&f=false
- Massey, Brent. "Cultureshock! Hawaii: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette." Marshall Cavendish. 2006. (Jan. 5, 2015)
- Murrell, Deborah. "Superstitions: 1,013 of the Wackiest Myths, Fables and Old Wives' Tales." Reade's Digest Association. 2008.
- Oliver, Harry. "Black Cats & Four-Leaf Clovers: The Origins of Old Wives' Tales and Superstitions in Our Everyday Lives." Penguin. 2010.
- Rodionov, Alexander and Maya Krivchenia. "Russia Survival Guide." Xlibris Corporation. 2014.
- Roud, Steve. "The Penguin Guide to the Superstitions of Britain and Ireland." Penguin UK. 2006.
- Thomas, Daniel Lindsey and Lucy Blayney Thomas. "Kentucky Superstitions." Princeton University Press. 1920. (Jan. 5, 2015)
- Webster, Richard. "The Encyclopedia of Superstitions." Llewellyn Worldwide. 2013.
- Woodfield, Marilee Whiting. "Children Around the World: The Ultimate Class Field Trip, Grades PK to 2." Carson-Dellosa Publishing. 2010.
HowStuffWorks presents 10 stories of people who experienced really bad luck, like Pete Best, Ron Wayne and Richard Jewell.