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A Typical Chinese Birthday Bash

  The elderly

Traditionally, Chinese people do not pay much attention to birthdays until they reach 60 years of age. The 60th birthday is regarded as an important milestone in life and therefore is often a big celebration. After the 60th birthday, a celebration is held every 10 years. Generally, the older the person is, the more elaborate the celebration.

To make the occasion grander, other relatives and friends are also invited. In Chinese culture, 60 years completes a life cycle and 61 is regarded as the beginning of a new life cycle. When one reaches 60, he or she is expected to have a big family filled with children and grandchildren. It is an age to be proud of.

It is often the adult sons and daughters who celebrate their elderly parents' birthdays to show their respect and express thanks. According to traditional custom, parents are offered foods with auspicious connotations. On the morning of his or her birthday, the father or mother eats a bowl of "long-life noodles." In China, long noodles symbolize longevity. Eggs are also among the best choices of foods eaten on this special occasion.

Regardless of the scale of the celebration, "peaches" (which are not really peaches but steamed wheat shaped like a peach with sweet stuffing) and noodles, which are both signs of long life, are staples. When the noodles are cooked, they should not be cut since short noodles may bring bad luck. Everyone at the feast eats these two types of foods to extend their warm wishes to the star of the show.

Typical birthday presents involve two or four of each of the following: eggs, long noodles, artificial peaches, tonics, wine, and money wrapped in red paper.

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