This is what it’s like to celebrate a birthday in the Philippines
Birthday celebrations around the world are different. Each place has its own culture and customs when it comes to celebrating your annual trip around the sun. And the Philippines is no exception.
As a culture, we do love a good party. Food and company are two of the major considerations when a birthday celebration is in order. Aside from that, we also have widely celebrated practices that come with the blowing of your cake.
Here are a few that might surprise you if you didn’t grow up in the Philippines.
Before the clock strikes midnight, many people are already in full party mode. “Salubong” means to “greet” in English. Some people (usually friends or family of the celebrant) like to throw parties the evening before someone’s birthday to greet the special day together once the clock strikes midnight.
Birthday salubong is usually done without the celebrant’s knowledge, meaning they’re in for a surprise when they come home or arrive at whichever venue the salubong is supposed to be held at.
It may be your birthday, but the pleasure (or burden, depending on who you ask) of footing the celebratory meal usually comes at the celebrant’s expense. In Filipino culture, there’s a practice of buying food for everyone in celebration of your birthday. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant meal, and usually a container of pancit and some soft drinks or soda will do.
Treating everyone during your birthday is a sign of gratitude for the blessing that is completing another year in your life. While the root of this tradition is in good faith, it can be burdensome for celebrants who aren’t doing very well financially.
@nolisoli.ph What’s your favorite Pinoy pancit? Mine is Pancit Malabon! #malabon #filipinofood #nolisoliph #wheretoeatph #foodie ♬ City pop / impression / landscape(1256108) – Patricia
Aside from birthday cake, spaghetti, and skewered hot dogs with marshmallows, another staple Pinoy birthday food is pancit. Superstition says that the celebrant must eat pancit or some kind of noodle dish for a long life.
In some families, the strand must be twisted and remain unbroken because a break in the pancit might end up cutting your lifeline short. Or so it’s been said.
There’s a long history of Chinese culture being adapted into Filipino practices, and wearing red on your birthday is one of them. Red is the color that symbolizes good luck, prosperity, and health.
Wearing red on your birthday is said to attract all of that good fortune, which everyone needs right now.
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Birthday celebrations in the Philippines are very much a team effort. In most workplaces and in groups of friends, it’s tradition to pitch in to buy the celebrant a cake. How close you are to the celebrant will usually determine how much you should pitch in.
Pitching in isn’t mandatory (especially if you don’t know who the celebrant is or if you’re not very close), but it can be expected from you.