Turning 21 is a rite of passage for college students everywhere.
Students line up downtown with their newly legal licenses, ready to have a drink and celebrate with friends.
However, pulling out a license is not the only thing people look forward to anymore.
Specialized 21st birthday signs are the popular way to ring in a new year of life.
Flashy 21st birthday signs fill the bars and are seen almost every night of the week.
The signs are lined with glitter, surrounded by feathers or feature a funny picture, making the signs difficult to miss.
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A 21st birthday sign is a spectacle birthday celebrators deem more special than simply pulling out a license.
The sign is made by friends and shows the personality of the celebrated person.
Whether it be the man or woman always drinks Diet Coke, loves a celebrity or is obsessed with dogs, it will be on the sign.
“My sign was my two favorite people, Bruno Mars and Milo Ventimiglia, with the background as top chef,” said Carley Powell, senior in nursing. “I love to cook and always joke that I’m the top chef.”
The back of the sign typically has a list of 21 tasks that must be completed by the end of the night.
The to-do list is decided by friends, and there is hardly a limit to how strange they can be.
“The funniest thing I had to do on my list was either text my clinical instructor or end the night by jumping in the Evolve pool,” Powell said.
Where the birthday sign originated is not clear, but Auburn is one of many schools that celebrates this way.
It is predominately a Southern tradition, especially at other SEC schools like the University of Alabama and the Ole Miss.
Elizabeth Castillo, senior at Florida State University, said, in their her social scene, the sign tradition is the same. However, in a addition to the sign, the birthday night has a theme that all of the birthday party abides by.
“I have been to birthdays themed under the sea, rock ‘n’ roll and even Harry Potter,” Castillo said. “Everyone dresses up according to the theme and presents the sign with the 21 tasks.”
The signs are either handmade on poster board and cut or purchased at Sign World on Opelika Road.
Sign World will design the sign in Photoshop to create the birthday sign of dreams. Prices range from $18 to $25, depending on the size and design used.
No matter the design, the 21st birthday sign is a tradition catered to each person, reflecting their personality and representing how well their closest friends know their personality and interests.
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