In Western culture, a birthday is often celebrated with gifts from friends and loved ones, a decorative cake and a party. But the Chinese culture is different in the sense that an individual's birthday may be recognised, but it is not truly celebrated until he reaches age 60. The 60th birthday is celebrated with lavish gifts that represent longevity.
Long noodles, also known as "long-life noodles," are a popular gift in the Chinese culture. These noodles are steamed and served at 60th birthday parties. It is said that the noodles signify the individual will have a long life -- once the noodles are eaten. Many adult children serve their mother or father a bowl of long-life noodles the morning of their birthday. If you serve long-life noodles, be careful that they aren't accidentally cut with the serving utensil. Noodles that are short are thought to be a symbol of a short life and most certainly will be frowned upon. Short noodles are also believed to bring bad fortune to the person.
Another popular gift for a 60-year-old is a longevity dumpling made of wheat that is shaped like a small peach. This dumpling contains a sweet filling made from lotus or red bean paste. The peach is considered a symbol of immortality as well as a long life. Giving a person a longevity dumpling is the equivalent of wishing him a long life. Longevity dumplings can be given to the birthday celebrant in a lovely display or as an individual serving.
Cash is also considered an acceptable gift as long as it is presented properly. Give the individual cash in a red envelope. The colour red is associated with good fortune and protects against evil spirits. The amount of money you give should be an even amount, because even numbers are thought to bring good luck. Odd-numbered monetary gifts are associated with funerals. Another basic rule is that the money should not contain the number 4 because the word "four" sounds too much like the word "death" in Chinese. The number 4 is also thought to bring bad fortune. The amount of money given depends on the relationship you have with the birthday celebrant and your finances.