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Cultural Appropriation for Birthday Celebration
February 21, 2012 8:31 AM   Subscribe

In Chinese culture 88 is considered to be an auspicious number. Are there any special presents, food, or activities that are considered particularly appropriate for an 88th birthday?

It is my father's 88th birthday at the end of this month. In our (mainstream English) culture, this is not a special birthday in any way. I'm looking for ways to make this a distinctive birthday by drawing on other birthday traditions from around the world. I understand that in Chinese culture, 88 is considered to be an lucky number, and that 88th birthdays are distinctive. I was wondering if there are any special ways in which 88th birthdays are celebrated in Chinese culture - for example, are there any particular gifts, food, or activities that are considered particularly appropriate for an 88th birthday.
posted by Jabberwocky to Society & Culture (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not the answer you are looking for, but as a 1st generation ABC, I have never heard of a special celebration for the 88th birthday. Most of the milestone birthdays I see are on the decade for males (My siblings and I have to plan some large shindig for our father's X0th birthday) and the 11, 21, etc for females. But not many of my relatives have reached that age with a spry physique intact so maybe the 88th thing exists outside my circles.
posted by Seboshin at 11:00 AM on February 21, 2012


I don't know of any birthday traditions specific to the 88th year; in my family at least it's the round numbers (70, 80, 90) that are seen as more significant. However, you're right that 8 is seen as an auspicious number, and I think it's a lovely idea to have a nice special birthday for your dad's 88th.

If you would like to incorporate specifically Chinese traditions for the party, you should serve a dish with long noodles (i.e. ramen or spaghetti, not macaroni or rotini) for sure. My mother always served long noodles on all birthdays regardless of the person's age, because they signify a long life. Make sure you don't cut up or break the noodles into shorter pieces. You can google for actual recipes for "longevity noodles" if you want--they're generally just egg noodles, often in broth, but the regional variants are interesting.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:21 AM on February 21, 2012


My experience is similar to that of hurdy gurdy girl's. Family members are feted on their 60th, 70th, 80th, and 90th birthdays; on those birthdays, we hold a family reunion dinner with longevity noodles, the birthday citizen gives out red packets to younger family members, but that's about it. The noodles are definitely non-negotiable!
posted by peripathetic at 3:31 PM on February 21, 2012


The 88th birthday is known as the "rice birthday" (米寿 mǐ shòu) because "rice" (米) is an anagram of "88" (八十八). Going on that, you could prepare a rice dish in addition to the noodles! Birthday noodles should be served in broth and contain a hard-boiled egg:)
posted by fix at 5:54 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


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