4 Latin American Ways to Honor Birthdays

Thanks to an article in Latina magazine, I can now share with you some of the unique ways in which those of Latin American heritage celebrate birthdays. Or, as someone would say in Portuguese, aniversário. 

Peru is on my list of places to go for birthday celebrations. Apparently the birthday celebrant gets to indulge in un torta de chocolate (chocolate cake). Others might eat pastel peruviano, a crusty bread filled with raisins. However, just as at home I prefer my pie and cake without ice cream, I’d probably defer from an accompanying scoop of helado lucuma, an ice cream made with the lucuma fruit, native to Peru and Ecuador.

I could handle Colombia — as long as the typical egg was cracked over my head early in the day, before I was dolled up for a night out of festivities.

I’ll steer clear of Mexico, though. Apparently they like to sing LAS MAÑANITAS and then push the person’s face into the cake. What a waste of a perfectly good cake! Sounds a little like the smash cakes I wrote about for one-year-old’s birthdays here in North America. On the flip side, I wouldn’t have minded going when I was 15 — having a Quinceañera Celebration would have been fun! Although it looks as if you still get your face smashed into the cake:

Latin Birthday traditions

Photo credit: amslerPIX via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

I’m also going to give Argentina and Brazil a miss on my birthday. I don’t have any interest in having my ears pulled, thank you very much. This also means I’ll be steering clear of Hungary (where they also have this tradition).

Interestingly, there was no mention of the piñata though! Maybe it’s like spaghetti (which we associate with Italy, but isn’t actually from there?).

What country would you want to travel to for your birthday? Imagine you could go anywhere in the world…



Ear yanking fun!

If your ear gets tugged on your birthday, you might guess the tugger is Brazilian or maybe Hungarian. You’ll be able to tell the difference by whether or not they are also singing a rhyming song. Plus, once they start singing you might be able to guess the difference between Portuguese and Hungarian. Want a translation of the rhyme, though? Mental Floss tells us it means: “God bless you. May you live so long your ears reach your ankles.” American abroad Phil Done, who had his own ear pulled while teaching in Budapest in 2013, backs this up in his blog.

In another site’s list of top 10 odd birthday gestures, there’s even this creepy photo to illustrate the tradition: hungary-pulling-earlobes


Having already endured a toddler yanking on my earrings, I recommend choosing your birthday accessories carefully while in Hungary or Brazil.