The 60th birthday once marked the beginning of seniority in many cultures. Although many people continue to be active and work well past their sixties, 60 is still an important milestone, and there are a number of traditions and customs associated with this birthday. If you take the time to educate yourself about various birthday customs, you may find ideas to incorporate into your own birthday plans.
In Western tradition, 60th birthday parties are often celebrated with tongue-in-cheek "Over the Hill" celebrations. Jokes about age are inevitable, and gifts will often trade in on nostalgia. Party-goers may choose to bring old photos or mementos from the time the guest was born or growing up. This is a good way to add some variety to the party. However, there are not many formal customs associated with 60th birthday celebrations in Western culture.
In China, large parties are thrown for people in every decade of their life starting on their 60th birthday. Life expectancy was once much shorter, and living to be 60 was cause for a big celebration. Traditional Chinese calenders were organized in 60-year cycles, so when a person turns 60 the calendar turns over and they customarily celebrate their second birth. Guests wish the 60-year-old a long life and give symbolic presents, such as long noodles to symbolize a long life.
In Japan, the 60th birthday is known as "Kanreki." At one time, Japan used the same ancient calendar used in China, and people in Japan follow the same basic tradition, although the customs are different. A party traditionally marks this day and the guest of honor is dressed in red, the same color that newborns wear. Food might include freshly produced mochi, a kind of sticky rice cake.
In Korea, the 60th birthday is celebrated as "Hwan-gap." Guests sit at a banquet table in order of age. Then, starting with the youngest, the children will bow to their elders and pour them wine. Traditionally guests take part in activities to remind them of their youth, playing games and dressing up in silly clothing. The celebration is often accompanied by music, and singing and dancing is encouraged.