They say it’s your birthday…

image courtesy of Wikipedia

Recently, I took a whirlwind trip to New York City to celebrate my daughter’s birthday, and we had a wonderful time. It was a nice departure from the usual birthday party and it got me thinking about birthday traditions. I did a little research on this annual event and found some pretty interesting origins and cultural variations in tradition.

Did you know that birthday parties may have started in Europe as a way to protect the celebrant from evil spirits? People believed that you were more vulnerable to being attacked by evil spirits on your birthday, so all your family and friends would make it their purpose to surround you all day in order to keep you safe. There are so many beautiful birthday traditions all over the world, and in case someone you love has a birthday coming up, I’ll give you a few of my favorites. Why not try something new?

Brazil: In Brazil you pull on the Birthday Boy/Girl’s earlobe for every year they have been alive, and sometimes once more for good luck. Ouch!

Canada: You grease the celebrant’s nose with butter or margarine, this way they are too slippery for the bad spirits to catch. This tradition has it’s origin in Scotland.

Denmark: A flag is flown outside the house to designate that someone in the household has a birthday that day. For children, parents place the child’s presents around their bed so that is the first thing they see when they get up in the morning.

England: A Fortune Cake is made, which is a regular cake with small symbolic tokens baked into it. If someone get’s a coin in their slice of cake, then they are destined to be rich.

Korea: On a child’s first birthday, she/he is placed in front of a table of foods and objects, such as a string, brushes, ink and money. Whatever the child chooses from the table determines his/her fortune. Food represents that they will never know hunger, the string represents longevity, money represents riches and the brush and ink represent intelligence.

South Africa: On a person’s 21st birthday, their parents give them a key. This key symbolizes the young person’s readiness to unlock the door to their future.

Sweden: Traditionally, Swedish children are served breakfast in bed. Parents surprise the children by singing a traditional Swedish birthday song and bringing a birthday breakfast and gifts to the birthday child. The breakfast typically includes a hot roll with a candle in it and a beverage.

Vietnam: In Vietnam, everyone’s birthday is celebrated on New Year’s Day!

So, what do you think? Have you been inspired to switch up any of your usual birthday traditions & if so, where will you start?

Celebrating St. Paddy’s Day

Image courtesy of serenebeautyphotos.com

We’re getting ready for St. Paddy’s Day festivities and I can’t wait to celebrate with family and friends. To get in the spirit, we’ll light our Garden Mint candle and the whole family will help bake some delicious Irish Soda Bread. This year, I think we’ll try a new recipe found over on Rachel Ray:

Cranberry Irish Soda Bread with Lime Glaze

What you’ll need:

  • 1 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • Grated peel and juice of 1 lime

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees . Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 1/3 cups milk and the lemon juice; let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Rub in the butter until coarse crumbs form, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cranberries.
  3. Beat the egg into the milk mixture; stir into the flour mixture until just combined. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until it just comes together; form into an 8-inch round and place on the prepared baking sheet. Using a knife, score a 1/2-inch-deep “X” in the round. Bake until dark golden and crusty, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, lime peel, lime juice and the remaining 1 tablespoon milk. Drizzle the cooled soda bread with the lime glaze.

(6 servings)

How yummy does that sound?

Tell me, what St. Paddy’s Day traditions do you usually look forward to?

Mardi Gras Voodoo

image courtesy of blog.gigmasters.com

With Mardi Gras just around the corner, I am so excited about planning evening festivities to enjoy with family and friends. Mardi Gras, also known as “Fat Tuesday”, is the day before Ash Wednesday and filled with raucous celebrations, colorful beads adorning the necks of millions of revelers, and of course, breathtaking floats parading through the streets of New Orleans. However, Mardi Gras is about more than just beads, bringing diverse groups of people together to celebrate together. Let the good times roll!

Here’s a recipe I found for a lovely little cocktail to start off your Mardi Gras festivities. Enjoy!
NEELY’S HURRICANE
Ingredients
• Ice cubes
• 2 ounces light rum
• 2 ounces dark rum
• 2 ounces passion fruit juice
• 2 ounces pineapple juice
• 1/2 lime, juiced
• 1 tablespoon grenadine
• 1 orange, sliced into wheels, for garnish
Yields 1 serving

Directions
Fill the hurricane glasses with ice. Mix the rums, passion fruit juice, pineapple juice, lime juice, and grenadine in an ice-filled shaker. Strain into the hurricane glasses. Garnish with a wheel of orange. Cheers!