Surprise party and birthday traditions in Ecuador

Yesterday I was part of a surprise birthday party for a friend. I’ve never been in on such a well-prepared surprise party before – we were about twenty people who had gathered in her kitchen without her knowledge. We had prepared a cake and had our birthday presents ready, and before she got home we turned out all the lights and took up hiding positions. When she got in the kitchen and turned the lights on all of us jumped out and started shouting out congratulationsShe was quite shocked but really pleased, and we had a great evening.
But the atmosphere was somewhat punctured by a little incident. Right after the birthday girl had blown out the candles on her cake, this other girl came up from behind and shoved the birthday girl’s face into the cake. Understandably, the birthday girl got pretty uncomfortable, but she quickly managed to regain her composure. The girl who did the shoving was from Ecuador, and she later explained that shoving the birthday person’s face in the birthday cake is tradition where she’s from. I was quite appalled by this “tradition”, and in my book this ritual is bordering on assault.

Have you heard of this tradition? How would you react if you were shoved into your birthday cake? Would you think it was funny or would you, like I would, get offended?

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29 Responses to Surprise party and birthday traditions in Ecuador

  1. Luisa says:

    I would definitely be offended. It’s all well and nice that there is a tradition like that where she’s from, but that doesn’t mean that this girl can just assume that everyone wants their face shoved into their birthday cake. That’s just inconsiderate and thoughtless. She could have at least talked to some of you before to gauge your reactions and make sure she isn’t offending anyone.

    • Antonia says:

      Luisa, I think you’re absolutely right here. I think asking the “locals” first would be the most diplomatic way to handle it. I must add that the birthday girl in question was Spanish, but this whole face-in-the-cake tradition was new to her as well!

      • Stephanie says:

        While I can see where this would be offensive, I also think it needs to be understood from the point of view from the girl from Ecuador. I am from the U.S. currently living in Ecuador and have definitely seen this tradition. It is something that they do here in good fun, definitely not to offend or hurt anyone. Also from living in a foreign country I know there are things that I have done that have been seen as inconsiderate or offensive simply because I do not know this culture well enough even when I try to think first of what is the “norm” here. I am not saying I would appreciate my face being shoved in a cake however I can definitely understand that this could have easily been a mistake because it is very normal here and even considered fun. She probably now has learned, as have I, that she has to do things a little different in other countries, but there are going to be a few mistakes before you learn. And that’s all they are, mistakes, not attempts to be inconsiderate, rude, or offensive. :)

        • Antonia says:

          Thanks for your input, Stephanie! Maybe she has learned, maybe she hasn’t. It’s been a couple years since this incident, but I can’t remember anyone pointing out her mistake for her that evening. However, I do agree with you that there are always a few ways to look at the same situation:)

  2. Nina says:

    I would _not_ appreciate it if someone did this to me! Not at all.. I’m not even sure I could keep my cool like your birthday girl seems to have done. I mean, all my makeup and probably my hairdo would be ruined, right? Glad you warned me about this, now I know to look over my shoulder whenever there’s a birthday cake in front of me :)

  3. anon21 says:

    Wow, love when you write this kind of posts! Really makes you think. I’d probably get sad if someone did it to me on my birthday party…..
    I do have a friend who’s dreaming of throwing a cake into someone’s face after he’d seen it so many times on TV!

  4. Nina says:

    I would be offended and surely start a fight, not even trying to keep my cool. She should’ve thought that one person’s traditions may well be annoying to others. I think, in situations like this, it should be enough just to tell, not practice. Plus, a birthday cake is something to eat, so after a face is into it, it’s plain disgusting.

    • Antonia says:

      Loved your comment, Nina! “…and surely start a fight” was my favorite part:))) But seriously, I think you’re right, and also gave me a new perspective on this. Of course, the cake would be ruined after something like this! I haven’t even thought of it that way.

  5. Chiara says:

    I would be so angry! A waste of the birthday cake and you’d have to walk around with cake on your face for the rest of the day… ugh!

    • Antonia says:

      She washed her face, but of course her make-up look wasn’t as nice anymore, and she had some whipped cream in the hair for the rest of the night:( Something like that could really ruin a party for me!

  6. Cinz says:

    Ehhh…i’ve never in my life heard of this tradition before and i have to say, i don’t like it one bit!!! Actually one of my BFF did that to me many years ago but as she’s my BFF i let her off, hehehe…but never again did it happen and i hope it remains that way!

    But i love the look of your friend’s cosy living room, the color scheme of blue and red is sooo warm, love it!


  7. Leia says:

    It’s actually a tradition in India, too. I wouldn’t like to have cake shoved on my face, though!

  8. gina says:

    Nice blog! I found you when I was looking for Semla but quickly wanted to look more.
    I really like the multiculturalism you’re sharing. Nicely done! gina/willowday

  9. Sephira says:

    I’m actually half ecuadorian ^^ (been there 9-10 times) and I’ve never heard of that tradition. I don’t think it’s an Ecuadorian tradition per say. It’s probably just her family tradition or maybe regional. At least my family doesn’t do that.
    Although it sounds fun I’ve always wanted to try and smash a cake in someones face. A soft cake tho’ so it wont hurt or anything! :D

    xx Seph

    • Antonia says:

      Cool, I didn’t know you were! Of course it might be something regional, but it seems from the comments here like it’s common in other countries too!

  10. Lala says:

    Hi Antonia,
    I’m from Honduras, and we do the same thing back home. I can understand how you would get shocked by it… I would too if it were new to me. People back home think it’s funny. I actually always hated it. My makeup and hair always got ruined, and the cake did as well. I would never do it to somebody who did not have that tradition though… Traditions can be tricky sometimes. I can imagine the tension in the room. lol

    • Antonia says:

      Hi Lala! Thank you for your comment, it’s really interesting to hear an opinion from a person who actually takes part in this tradition! To me it sounds odd, but of course it must be absolutely normal for those who do it every birthday.

  11. Ylenia says:

    Oh I know it too, since well it’s not a TRADITION but it’s something quite common in Mexico. It’s something one does for fun and you kinda know it might happen when it’s your birthday so it doesn’t really come as a shock.

    I understand that for someone who doesn’t have this background it would be really shocking and also feel like an aggression, but I’m glad she didn’t let that ruin her day specially since I know that the other girl didn’t mean any harm.

    I guess the biggest problem here was that she (the girl from Ecuador) didn’t stop to think or investigate whether such thing is done in Sweden (one must make sure specially being an expat).

    In any case, I must assure you that the loss of cake, and the mess in the face (make up, hair, etc) is not such a big deal it’s really just for the fun, and taking things lightly.

    But yes, we should probably keep this practice to ourselves ^^

    • Antonia says:

      I like how you put it, Ylenia! You’re very diplomatic about it:) I guess the fact that it was so unexpected made it more shocking (now I’m getting more used to the thought, after reading the comments here. It seems to be common in many countries!)! And yeah, to be honest everyone ate the cake afterwards (except me and another friend, but for a completely different reason), so I can’t say it was ruined:)

  12. Nicki says:

    I have never seen this done in person but have seen it on TV shows (specifically American’s Funniest Home Videos) where it seems to be a big joke with a lot of people. The show has clips of it being done at birthdays and even at weddings. It is horrible to see a young bride, all dressed up in an expensive wedding dress with a pretty hairdo and nice make-up on, have wedding cake smeared all over her face. I have never seen the humor in it, have never had it done to me and will never do it to anyone else. I think it is extremely rude and discourteous and have never heard of it being a custom for any particular country.

  13. Arantxa says:

    I think more than a tradition is a lack of education.Honestly I feel really bad if someone make me this joke. I can not imagine the face of the person’s birthday … Poor … That uncomfortable situation!

  14. Araceli says:

    Yes, I have heard and lived through this tradition a couple times. Being of Mexican decent, it’s quite hard to escape most if not all of these traditions, even here in the America. I am lucky that the times it did happened to me, I was a child and my mom who was upset about decided to take action. On my next birthday, and every birthday after, she would announce that in our family and in our birthday celebrations, we do not practice the shoving of anyones face in the cake. And just like that it stopped. Yay mom!

    I am a proud Mexican and I love many of our traditions except for this one. I think it’s rude and a waste of really good cake. It ruins it for everyone. I mean, would you want a piece of cake that just had someones face shoved in it? Not me.

    I feel for the birthday girl. The fact that she was able to compose herself quickly after that to not ruin the mood of the party speaks volumes of her. I agree with Ylenia, the Ecuadorian gal should have probably thought twice before doing that.

  15. Ruben says:

    Hello there my name is Rubén from Ecuador-Guayaquil
    but living in Australia-Melbourne my 20 birthday was yesterday in Australia
    A kiwi lady(New Zealand) step mother of my Ecuadorian friend preparer
    A little dinner for me wiz cake and everything and for me is a tradition do that thing
    And more if you are young… But I can say that is specifically wiz close people as friends
    Who are from the same country or have the same tradition… Old people does not do that coz of respect… I think the Ecuadorian girl did wrong to apply the tradition in other country wiz out know the consequences… Lol anyways I love the traditions of my country coz for me they re fun if u wanna se is the video made by my Ecuadorian friend… Only apply to easygoing people who love new traditions lol just kidding :D

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