Big Fat Balloons uncovers cultural differences of landmark birthdays

According to research from Big Fat Balloons, the online balloons, teddy bears and chocolates store, culture and religion have a big influence on the landmark birthdays that people celebrate. Certain birthday gifts also have different significance for landmark birthdays.

“While we consider any birthday after the age of 20 that ends in a nought, to be a landmark birthday, this isn’t necessarily the same around the world,” said Sophie Baxter, managing director, Big Fat Balloons.

“There’s also a vast difference in the age that countries and religions celebrate when an individual ‘comes of age’ and the gifts that mark this landmark birthday,” Sophie added.

In the Chinese culture, a baby’s first birthday is a significant celebration. Known as the ‘zhua zhou’ or the ‘birthday grab’ this milestone is considered a ‘coming of age’ for Chinese babies and has been passed down from dynastic times.

Following a celebration feast, items are placed before the birthday child. The first item that the child picks and successfully gives to his or her parents is considered an indication of the child’s future career, for example a stamp is used to donate a high-ranking official or person of power.

In the UK, the coming of age birthday has changed. Traditionally it was only celebrated on a person’s 21st birthday. Known as ‘key of the door’, individuals were (and often still are) presented with a symbolic key.

Yet, when the legal age of adulthood in the UK dropped to 18 in 1969, 18th birthday celebrations became popular. Today many people celebrate both their 18th and their 21st birthday.

In the USA however, ‘sweet sixteen’ birthday celebrations mark an individual’s coming of age – especially for girls. Latin American countries celebrate Quinceanera, which is a coming of age ceremony held on a girl’s fifteenth birthday. Gifts for this important birthday are usually religious in nature, such as a Bible, a cross, rosary or sceptre.

Meanwhile coming of age in the Jewish religion is celebrated with a bar mitzvah for boys on or around their 13th birthday, and a bat mitzvah for girls on or around their 12th birthday, (in some forms of Judaism).

“As we get older, there are several landmark birthdays of note. In the Chinese calendar, your 60th birthday marks the end of one cycle of your life and the start of another. In China, as you’re expected to have a big family by the age of 60, it’s considered a time to celebrate this achievement and traditional gifts include eggs, long noodles, wine and money wrapped in red paper,” said Sophie.

Yet the ultimate landmark birthday has to be the 100th birthday. After all, it’s quite an achievement to live for an entire century. In the UK, this landmark birthday is traditionally marked by a personal message from the Queen. But spending time with a friend or relative on their 100th birthday has to be one of the best gifts to give.

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For further press information, please contact Sophie Baxter:

Tel: 01422 300 654 – Email:

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