Noodles on Your Birthday — Chinese Birthday Traditions and Superstitions.

Sherry-Lynn Lee
3 min readJan 12, 2017


Disclaimer: My family moved to Mauritius a few generations ago from a very small village in China. Therefore, these are probably very dated, small town traditions and may not reflect modern Chinese culture. Also, perhaps they are of mixed Chinese, African and Indian origin, I don’t know. If you know more about their origins, please comment below!

According to the Chinese tradition as taught by my superstitious grandmothers, here are the rules of birthday celebration.

1. Eat noodles. Noodles are long. They will give you long life.

2. If you’re an adult, do not celebrate your birthday unless the Gods have told the nuns to tell you it’s okay to do so. Celebrating your birthday on a bad year without the blessings of the Gods will bring you bad luck (and that possibly means death).

3. If you’re an adult, do not have a birthday cake and absolutely do not have candle blowing involved in this party that you’re not supposed to have in the first place. That will bring you bad luck (read death).

4. NEVER give someone flowers for their birthday or any occasion other than their death. Because cut flowers are dead, and anything dead is bad feng shui. Dead flowers are what you bring to funerals, and hence bringing them to a happy occasion is like telling somebody you wish they were dead. It brings bad luck (read death).

5. There has to be a fifth rule because 4 in our Chinese dialect sounds a lot like death in said dialect. So I’ll give you another one. NEVER wear all black or all white or purple to any birthday or other celebratory occasion. As you may have guessed by now, these are the colors associated with death and will bring bad luck (read death).

6. [Added after showing this to my dad] You should never celebrate your birthday after the date. So if your birthday is Jan 11, and you have the blessings of the Gods to celebrate, your party better be before or on Jan 11. Celebrating on Jan 12 or later would be bad luck (read death).

Since any celebration seems to increase the likelihood of you inviting bad luck (read death), it is therefore recommended not to celebrate at all and just have an ordinary day, and reflect silently on the fact that death hasn’t caught up with you yet.

On a brighter note, when you’re a child, none of those bad luck rules typically apply AND you often get a little red envelope (called Fong Pao) with money in it. As to why the Gods only allow adults to be stricken by self-inflicted bad luck, perhaps it’s because they should know better, or perhaps because they should be able to afford expensive prayer services to ward off evil spirits.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, I have a few questions for you:

Did you also grow up with quirky birthday traditions? Tell me all about it! I want to know that my culture is not the only one with outlandish superstitions.

If you’re Chinese, do you know about any of this or did the Mauritian Chinese nuns make this whole thing up?

Please share this with your friends so we can learn more about the birthday traditions and superstitions from cultures around the world :)



Sherry-Lynn Lee

LA-based writer, artist, producer who used to be a Silicon Valley engineer. Mauritian, Canadian.