3 most famous Australian birthday party traditions

December 7, 2020

People love to party. That’s a fact. New Years Eve, Christmas, Halloween - they are all great reasons to have fun and throw a party. But, maybe everyone's favourite day of the year to have fun with friends and family is their birthday. It’s your day, so why wouldn’t it be special for you? Or, if you are organizing it for your kid, even more - you’ve got to make it special.

All around the world people have traditional ways of celebrating birthdays. From the food people eat, ways they have fun, songs they sing… Everyone does it in their own, traditional way. Australia’s no different. People love having fun together, organizing parties to connect and socialize. 

So, what are the most famous Australian birthday party traditions? Let’s find out.

Fairy bread

Fairy bread is a simple party-time treat consisting of bread, butter and sprinkles. So, what’s so special about buttered bread covered in tiny sprinkles (yes, they have a name - hundreds and thousands)?

It’s an Australian tradition that reaches back into the 19th century. There are different theories about the origin of the tradition, but which one is correct, that’s quite tough to tell. According to Australian Food Timeline, the name came from a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. And since the first mention in 1921, it’s been widely accepted and served, mostly at children’s birthday parties.

What’s so special about buttered bread covered in tiny sprinkles?

Some people love it so much, they even started an initiative to celebrate International Fairy Bread Appreciation Day. Quite a thing, when you have in mind it is essentially sprinkles, bread and butter. But, that’s the thing with traditions - they have a life of their own. Maybe the key to this tradition's popularity is its simplicity. Why go through all the trouble to bake a cake when you can put some sprinkles on bread and kids will be even happier?

If you want to prepare it for your next birthday party, check out this awesome recipe by Sweetest Menu.

Gift exchanging

While giving presents to the celebrator is a common tradition around the world, Australians like to walk a little extra mile when it comes to exchanging gifts. And that extra mile really makes us unique. We exchange gifts at birthday parties.

Yeah, you heard it correctly. As a guest on a birthday party in Australia, you’ll always come back home with a small gift, a little sign of appreciation. This tradition, according to Maitai, is related to believing that lending and achieving is correlated and the more you give, the more you shall receive.

If you ask us, this is quite an awesome tradition and should be practiced around the world.

The 21st birthday

While 21st birthday is a special time for any young person, in Australia it’s celebrated much harder too. But, if you know that in Australia it’s the age of 18 that many things become legal (like voting ability and alcohol consumption), you have to wonder - why is 21 so special?

Aussies have a special tradition for the 21st birthday, called Handing over of a Key

Well, greatrace.com.au claims that this tradition traces back to medieval times, as the time that a boy could be groomed for knighthood. Now it’s not gender specific, it goes without saying, but the milestone kept its importance. Aussies have a special tradition for the 21st birthday, called Handing over of a Key that makes 21st birthday extra grandiose. This symbolic present, followed by a speech by the parents, means that the one that celebrated his 21st birthday can now come and go out of the house as they please.

And everything else is grandiose at 21. Starting from the gifts. For example, it’s not so unusual to get a car for your 21st birthday. 

But, all the other birthdays are special too

Yes, that’s true. 21 is a bit more special, but we essentially love all birthday parties in Australia. 

They mean hanging out with friends and family, having a barbeque (yeah, we really do love BBQ - if you don’t, you can always hire a vendor for the food), playing games and basically bonding with our loved ones. 

These traditions are just a part of that - forming meaningful, human connections while growing up. And that’s why we celebrate birthdays.