Chinese custom: Birthday noodles

My informant’s mother always makes noodle soup whenever anyone in the family celebrates a birthday.  Her mother’s mother, my informant’s grandmother, was from northern China, where wheat noodles were a popular food item. The long noodles represent long life. The person whose birthday it is must eat enough to be completely full so that he/she won’t ever be hungry in the coming year.

This custom turns every birthday into a family occasion. The family shares a homemade meal, which promotes family bonding. It’s a ritual of sorts to mark the transition into being a year older.

My informant skipped her classes on her birthday to go home and have a noodle meal with her family, which shows how strong a tradition this is for her family. She says that she will have to learn how to make noodle soup so that she can continue the tradition in the future.