Surprise your friends and family with your gift giving prowess.
La mordida birthday tradition of cake being pushed into their face.

A Taste of Mexico: Celebrating Birthdays the Mexican Way

4 minute read
Share article

A perfect way to experience another culture is to embrace their traditions by incorporating them into your next celebration. These Mexican birthday traditions will have you excited to celebrate getting another year older. 

Las mañanitas

Start your birthday with the tradition of “Las Mañanitas,” which translates to Little Mornings. You will wake up to a morning serenade at dawn. However, it isn’t just any song that gets sung for the serenade. It is most widely this birthday song. It is a song that expresses the beauty of the birthday morning and how much love the singer has for the birthday person. However, if getting woken up at dawn doesn’t sound like fun, you can have it sung at any time of the day. Many people choose to have it sung later in the day at their birthday party when blowing out the candles.  

Las Mañanitas Lyrics (Spanish)

Estas son las mañanitas
Que cantaba el rey David
Hoy por ser día de tu santo
Te las cantamos aquí

Despierta, mi bien, despierta
Mira que ya amaneció
Ya los pajaritos cantan
La luna ya se metió

Qué linda está la mañana
En que vengo a saludarte
Venimos todos con gusto
Y placer a felicitarte

El día en que tú naciste
Nacieron todas las flores
En la pila del bautismo
Cantaron los ruiseñores

Ya viene amaneciendo
Ya la luz del día nos dio
Levántate de mañana,
mira que ya amaneció

Las Mañanitas Lyrics (English)

This is the morning song
that King David sang
Because today is your saint’s day
We’re singing it for you

Wake up, my dear, wake up,
Look, it is already dawn
The birds are already singing
and the moon has set

How lovely is the morning
in which I come to greet you
We all came here with joy
and pleasure to congratulate you

The day you were born
all the flowers were born
On the baptismal font
the nightingales sang

The morning is coming now,
the sun is giving us its light
Get up in the morning,
look, it is already dawn

Tres leches (three milks) cake

This delicious cake gets its name from the three types of milk used in its preparation. It starts with a special kind of sponge cake made with flour, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Once it’s baked, the cake is soaked in three types of milk: evaporated, condensed, and cream or whole milk. The cake is then frosted with whipped cream. 

Traditionally, the cake would be white with white whipped cream. It might have fruit decorating it, such as coconut or strawberries. However, this has changed in modern times to give it bright colors and decorations. You could have a single-layer or multi-tired cake. There is a lot of flexibility in what the final cake looks like. The key is soaking the cake in three types of milk to make it tres leches. 

La mordida tradition

People tend to have strong feelings about this tradition. La Mordids translates to “little bite. ” The birthday person’s hands are tied behind their back. They must then take a bite of their birthday cake without using their hands or other assistance. While the person is taking their bike, the birthday party guests shout “Mor-di-da” as someone pushes the birthday person’s face into the cake. 

While this tradition is celebrated in Mexico, not everyone participates. It is typically something the birthday individual gets a say in. Unlike here in the States, where the birthday person is surprised by getting their face shoved into the cake. The Mexican version is supposed to be fun; everyone is in on the joke and up for a laugh. 


What’s a Mexican party without a pinata? You can buy one pre-made or make one yourself. Use paper mache and cardboard to make the hollow sculpture. They are typically fun shapes, like food, animals, or representative of something the birthday person loves. Inside the pinata, you can fill it with anything you want. Traditionally, it would be small toys and candy. However, you could do an adult version with mini liquor bottles, makeup samples, or snacks. 

To play, each partygoer gets blindfolded one at a time and gets a turn swinging a stick at the pinata. Everyone takes turns until the pinata breaks open and the contents pour out. 

Los regalos (birthday presents)

Birthday presents are just as common in Mexico as in the U.S. You give them wrapped in paper, and the birthday individual gets to open them. Giving money as a gift is less common in Mexico. People tend to focus on items the recipient could use or want. 

Large get-togethers

A hallmark of a Mexican get-together is the number of people in attendance. It is common for immediate family, aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins, and anyone else available. There is an importance in spending time with family and those who love and care about you the most. While these aren’t formal events, you are expected to put some effort into what you wear. 

Mexican birthday traditions: food and music 

As with American birthday parties, there are plenty of drinks, food, and music. You may hear traditional Mariachi, banda, norteño, or more modern tunes played. People aren’t afraid to get up and dance to the tunes. 

For food, traditional dishes are served. These include sopapillas, tortillas, enchildas, salsa, taquitos, churros, and mole. In addition to the tres leches birthday cake, other desserts like flan or rice pudding may also be served. You will find everything from soda products to beer and tequila for drinks. With so many people in attendance, a feast accommodates everyone. 

Age-specific Mexico birthday traditions

Similar to a Sweet Sixteen party or the large party that happens when someone turns 21, there are specific “big birthdays” in Mexico. 

Presentación de tres años

This birthday tradition happens when someone has a child who is turning three. They celebrate with a “Presentación de Tres Años,” or a presentation to the community. The purpose of this extra special party is to celebrate and give thanks for the child’s good health. 

This Mexican birthday tradition is steeped in religion. It comes from the presentation of the Virgin Mary at three years old. Many people celebrate their baby’s third birthday by attending mass. The child gets dressed in fancy clothes and a priest provides a blessing. After the mass, the family attends a large birthday party with extended family and friends. 

La quinceañera

The most well-known age-specific birthday tradition is the quinceañera. Girls turning 15 will celebrate with an extra large party to signify their “coming of age.” A hallmark of this party is the over-the-top ball gown style dress that the birthday girl wears. Traditionally, they are pink or white. However, this has changed in modern times. The day typically starts in the morning with the birthday girl attending mass to pay homage to the Virgin Mary. 

Celebrate your next birthday with these Mexican birthday traditions 

Do something different for your birthday this year by embracing another culture. These Mexican birthday traditions are a fun way to experience and celebrate another culture. So fill out your Giftser wish list and start sending out the invites. You can enjoy a large party with plenty of food, tres leches cake, and a pinata.

Share article

Want gift giving to be fun again?

Quit guessing and stressing over gifts. Share and shop wish lists with family and friends for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and more.