Birthdays in China are a unique blend of both tradition and taboo.
On the day a child is born, he or she begins life as a 1-year-old (time in utero is considered the first year of life). As such, their first official birthday bash actually occurs on their second birthday. On that day, the child is placed in front of an array of objects, and whatever they pick up first is believed to reveal an aspect of their personality or a future interest. If the birthday girl or boy selects a toy plane, for example, that could indicate a future filled with travel. Or if a mirror is selected, the child may be considered vain.
The traditions don't stop there. When people make it to the impressive ages of 60 or 80, an over-the-top celebration complete with a never-ending buffet is in order. These birthday years are considered so significant that some people will wait until they turn 60 to celebrate their first birthday!
Interestingly, because they're considered bad luck years, it's taboo for women to celebrate turning 30, 33 or 66 years old. To cast aside lousy luck at 30, women remain 29 years old for an extra year. At 33, evil spirits are kicked to the curb by pounding on a piece of meat 33 times before throwing it away. And at 66, the birthday girl recruits a daughter or a close female friend to chop up a piece of meat for her no more or less than 66 times.
Regardless of the year, the Chinese always commemorate birthdays with a big bowl of longevity noodles, meant to symbolize a long and healthy life.