Mexican families who are religious often begin a birthday with a church visit, followed by a party at home. There is also a special birthday celebration called a quinceañera for girls who are turning 15.
Birthday parties are usually a large gathering of family, friends and neighbors. One of the most famous traditions (and one that has made its way to other cultures) is that of the piñata; the piñata is a pot or animal made of either paper mache or clay. It is commonly painted in bright colors and filled with candies or small toys. People at the party take turns trying to hit and break open the piñata while blindfolded. A large birthday cake is often served, and the person whose birthday is being celebrated takes the first bite of cake with his hands tied behind his back.
The quinceañera is a formal marking of a girl's transition into womanhood. The celebration begins with a mass to give thanks; the birthday girl attends the service wearing a white or pink formal dress. A large party is held afterward, and the young woman receives presents. Finally, a formal dinner is served, followed by a birthday cake that is traditionally large.