new orleans is a famously lively place that is fueled by superstition as well as tradition. It is legendary for its inherently spooky vibe. Rumored for its vampire/sanguinist population. It boasts its abundance of voodoo and Wiccan practices. The city itself was built on an ancient Indian burial ground, an area that was believed to be cursed and avoided by its original Native American inhabitants. The creepy, spirit ridden city is alluring because of its freaky charm.

Although the Crescent City is famous for its anciently spooky history is even more famous for its parties.

Mardi Gras anyone? The parties here are not for the faint of heart. If wild young adults performing for beads and getting into all sorts of debauchery and mayhem comes to mind, we’re just getting started.

The Jazz funeral

Have you ever heard of a Jazz funeral? This is a unique practice where the bodies of the dead are paraded through the streets with a marching band in tow. Not only is this a jubilant way to enjoy the life the recently passed has lived, it is done to confuse the spirits and keep them from returning to haunt their loved ones. Even in death, this is a funky and celebratory destination.

Despite their focus on the dead (or undead), the locals of Nola put just as much of an emphasis on the celebration of life - more specifically, the celebration of birth.

A promise for a birthday

Now before I let you in on this little known secret, I need you to make a promise. Promise me that you will only practice this tradition on your actual birthday. If you don't you’re just going to ruin it for everyone, and no one likes that guy. The mystique of this tradition is that very few people know about it, even frequent visitors.

That’s what makes it so sacred.

Are you ready? Here it is. This is the little tip that will make your birthday in New Orleans the best yet. Pin a dollar to your shirt. To the locals, this is a covert sign that it is your birthday. The population of Nola relish any excuse to celebrate, and you will become the object of their festivities.

I learned about this tradition years ago when I visited New Orleans with my sister for her birthday. We started off the celebration with a few drinks at our favorite bar, Lafittes Blacksmith Shop, one of the oldest bars in America. After learning that it was her birthday, the bartender leaned over the bar, pinning a dollar to her shirt.

'You’ll thank me later,' he said with a wink

We quickly caught on to what he was on about. Smiles beamed at us through the streets. There was a chorus of “happy birthday!” from every which direction. Before we knew it, strangers were approaching her with dollars and small trinkets. Vendors gave her free pieces of art, vagabonds gifted her with mementos from their travels.

And of course, free drinks from the bartenders.

I’m really going out on a limb here by providing you with this information. It’s a bit of a breach of confidence. I’d hate to imminently destroy the tradition by putting it into the wrong hands. That’s why I ask you to practice this with discretion. Don’t be that guy (or girl).

If you happen to be in the area, and it happens to be your birthday, do it. Pin a dollar to your shirt. Your wild weekend will turn up even more, and the entire city will be celebrating with you.