Birthday ritual – Canada
Punching people on their birthday, as many times as they are old plus one more for good luck, and dont forget a pinch to grow an inch.
These are birthday traditions Jon has repeatedly seen not only in Filipino culture in Canada, but lately universally. His family practices it often, and he appreciates their hope for the future but Jon also finds the practice retarded. There is no need to do it, it just embarrasses the birthday boy/girl and is a rather childish habit, he says. You always see it done in school, which is even more embarrassing!
While I also have come across many birthday traditions, including numerous variations of the Happy Birthday song I feel that this is a very friendly and innocent habit. Sure you might embarrass the recipient, but it is all in good faith and fortune. A birthday is very important to the individual, especially when turning 13, 18, 21 and sometimes 30. These are transitional periods in life and it is the duty of family and friends to make the individual feel confident and to look forward to the future.
This future oriented outlook is prevalent in American culture but has now proliferated into Eastern culture as well. It is common practice in my homeland Sri Lanka to clap as many times as the age of the individual and then to clap once more for the following year. While I have never come across the phrase a pinch to grow an inch I can understand why someone would say that, as you grow older you are also expected to grow physically, although this is more relevant to younger individuals. No harm can come of such traditions.