While researching the article ‘Big birthdays and what they mean’, I was surprised at the variety of landmark birthdays celebrated throughout the world and by different cultures and religions.
The age at which ‘coming of age’ birthdays are celebrated varies enormously. In China a child’s first birthday, known as ‘zhua zhou’ is considered a coming of age birthday, while in Western societies, coming of age is usually celebrated during the teenage years. Yet the exact age is dramatically different depending on exactly where you live and the religion you follow.
Jewish children celebrate their Bar Mitzvahs (boys) and Bat Mitzvahs (girls) around the time of adolescence at 12 or 13 , while in Latin American countries girls have to wait until they’re fifteen before celebrating Quinceanera. Americans throw ‘sweet sixteen’ parties, yet individuals in the UK have the longest wait before ‘coming of age’.
Traditionally we had to wait until 21 to celebrate being given the ‘key of the door’. However, since the age at which we legally become an adult dropped to 18, this then became a landmark birthday celebration, even though 21st birthday parties are still popular.
I suppose that, despite having to wait the longest for our first ‘big birthday’, in the UK we get the best deal of all. We can take our pick, or choose to celebrate twice – once on our 18th birthday and again on our 21st birthday. Best of both worlds as they say.
By the way, if you’re looking for gift ideas for big birthdays, see our ‘Celebrate Big Birthdays in Style’ article.
You can also check out our press release Big Fat Balloons uncovers cultural differences of landmark birthdays.