9 Mexican Birthday Traditions Still Practiced Today

Published December 18, 2020
Mexican family sitting for birthday

Every culture has its own unique birthday traditions passed down through the generations. Explore the Mexican birthday traditions done on the day of your birthday, along with special birthday celebrations like the quinceañera.

Mexican Birthday Traditions Done Today

Birthdays are a big celebration in Mexican culture. And on the day of your birth, there are several different Mexican birthday traditions you can expect, including Las Mañanitas, tres leches cakes, piñatas, and presents.

Morning Serenade: Las Mañanitas

One of the first birthday traditions you might experience on your birthday is the morning serenade of "Las Mañanitas" Many birthday celebrations begin in the wee hours of the morning to the singing of this traditional Mexican birthday song. This birthday morning song describes the beauty of the birthday morning for the birthday celebration.

Tres Leches Cake

The tres leches, or three milks, cake is a special sponge cake made for birthdays. These delicious cakes come in elaborate color schemes and recipes. They could be small or multitiered mega cakes. Regardless, they are created with evaporated, sweet condensed milk, and whole milk.

Smacking of Piñatas

The smacking of the piñata for a birthday is a typical Mexican birthday tradition. Today, the store-bought or homemade piñata is typically cardboard and filled with candy. However, this tradition has a long history with Asian origins. The original piñatas had points to signify the seven deadly sins, but now, they come in all shapes and sizes. The stick also holds specific significance by representing the love that destroys the sins. The candies falling out of the piñata work to signify your new beginning. The hitting of the piñata, while fun, also has deep historical and cultural significance.

Mexican Pinata

La Mordida Tradition

La mordida is the first bite of the cake taken by the birthday girl or boy. While some families allow them to take a small bite, they typically shove their face into the cake. Their hands are also put behind their backs when this happens while the family around them chant, "Mordida!"

Birthday Presents

Like America, Mexican birthdays include presents or los regalos. Money isn't given as much as it might be in at an American birthday party. More commonly, the family offers presents and gift cards to the birthday recipient.

Large Family Birthday Celebrations

Mexican birthdays are typically large affairs for your family. Therefore, you have a large birthday party with your aunts, uncles, cousins, godparents, and parents. Emphasis is placed more on spending time with your family on your birthday than with friends. And you can expect to dress for the affair. Additionally, for the special birthdays, the family also contribute financially and in the planning.

Dancing and Food Traditions

Music, dancing, and food make a Mexican birthday party unique. These parties have traditional music, like the Mariachi, played. The food at parties also includes traditional spread like rice pudding, churros, salsas, taquitos, sopapillas, and tortillas, along with traditional Mexican drinks. Many times, the families contribute to the fair of the celebration.

Special Mexican Birthday Traditions

In addition to having unique traditions on the day of your birth, Mexican culture has special birthday celebrations as are done in America for 16, 18, and 21. In Mexico, these three hallmark birthdays are 3 and 15.

Presentaticion de Tres Anos: Mexican 3rd Birthday Traditions

Typically done on the 3rd birthday, Presentación de Tres Años celebrates the life of your child. This is a day-long celebration, which includes mass and a large family gathering. Done in commemoration of the Virgin Mary, the child gets dressed up, and godparents give special gifts.

Mexican Birthday Traditions 15: La Quinceañera

When a girl turns 15, a girl has a quinceañera or quince to celebrate their passage from a girl to a woman. This elaborately planned celebration includes a mass with her parents, godparents, and family. In addition to an elaborate dress and banquet, the 15-year-old girl has a court of boys and girls called damas and chambelanes. The quinceañera is a massive affair with choreographed dances, toasts, and cate cutting. Girls also change their shoes from flats to heels.

Young woman dressed in quinceanera gown

Fun Mexican Birthday Celebrations

Birthdays are a big affair in Mexican cultures. This is especially true for the 3rd and 15th birthdays. Get ready for fun, games, laughs, and piñatas.

9 Mexican Birthday Traditions Still Practiced Today