Irish Birthday Traditions:  Common Customs with an Unmistakable Irish Flavor!


The great thing about Irish birthday traditions is – you can use them to express your Irish side on a fun and memorable occasion! 

And you can repeat them over and over again (every year in fact) until you get really good at them!

Because we Irish have such a reputation for being able to throw a good party, it may come as something of a surprise to learn that there are only a few unique traditions associated with birthdays in Ireland.

Most traditional celebrations in Ireland are related to religion or to the cycle of the seasons.  Birthday in Ireland is a little different.  Want to know more?  Read on!

A 'Bump' To Grow an Inch...

Irish Birthday Traditions - the 'birthday bump.' Photocredit:  Jim Moore.

Many of us are familiar with the tradition of ‘spanking’ a child one time for each year, and finishing up this torturous ritual with a ‘pinch to grow an inch.’  

I have to confess – I never really liked that one when I was growing up. 

Of course it’s much more fun now that I’m the one doing the spanking…

Anyway, the Irish version of this tradition is a bit different – and much more challenging!

According to legend, it is common for a birthday lad or lass to be held upside down and ‘bumped’ on the floor – once for each successful year of life to date, and an extra bump for good luck in the coming year.

Ouch. Actually that explains a lot about some of my Irish ancestors … anyway, moving on :-)…




Nose Buttering - An Irish Birthday Tradition?

Irish Birthday Traditions - Birthday Nose Buttering.  Photocredit:  Alisgator.com

Imagine sneaking into your mother’s kitchen to grab a cookie or a scoop of frosting – only to have her spin around and swipe a smear of butter on your nose.  Aaaauuugghhh!

Or being called into another room and arriving to find a group of your closest friends with spatulas poised to flick patties of butter at your face.  What the…?

Yes people, we are talking about ‘nose buttering…’ a mysterious birthday tradition with many different stories. 

It might not even ‘really’ be Irish (although it appears to have originated in that general area of Europe…)



What does it mean?  What is the ‘right’ way to do it?  You tell us!  We would love to hear your stories and explanations.

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The Big 'Two-One'

Irish Birthday Traditions - Keys to the House.  Photocredit:  Gadgeteer.com

Well, compared to what you have been reading, this one is going to sound pretty tame. 

One Irish birthday tradition for 21 year olds is to give them the key to the house, signifying a fully independent adult.

We suspect 21 year olds care more about legal drinking age than letting themselves into their own houses... but that’s just us. 

In any case, we have been witness to very lavish 21s birthday parties on the Emerald Isle (where you don't actually have to be 21 to enjoy a drink in a pub by the way), and we know it’s just as big a deal there as it is anywhere in the world.


If a key to the house captures that excitement to your birthday boy or girl ... go for it! At the very least it’s a touching gesture for a young adult on their favorite day.

Funny Birthday Limericks

Irish Birthday - Shamrock Cupcake

Birthdays are always a good time for humor... In between bumping and buttering...

And a good limerick is just the thing to deliver the laughs.

We recommend you choose carefully since 'age' can be a sensitive topic, and some birthday limericks can be a little ... well...

Ruthless.

Check out our page on birthday limericks to see what we mean!

Irish Birthday Blessings

Irish Birthday Blessings - Shamrock Gift Tag

As in many cultures, Irish blessings have historical roots.

They can be seen as a way to boost the spirits, ward off bad luck, offer a gift ... or just to get a laugh on somebody's birthday!

Whatever your reason, you'll find a a great list of Irish birthday blessings here at Irish Expressions.

That Was Fun!  What's Next?

We have found that the best ideas come from our frequent visitors.  We would like you to be one of those!

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Meanwhile we invite you to click on a new topic, and continue exploring Irish culture and traditions with our growing community at Irish-Expressions.com!



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