When I was young, I thought I was the only person born on my birthday, and therefore no wonder it needed to be celebrated. After all my family members had different birthdays. However, that changed in second grade when a classmate had the same birthday as me. At first, I thought she was lying but she not so kindly pointed out that there were thousands of people who had the same birthday as us. What?
It’s so true of course. Over 19 million people share my birth date if you divide 7 billion by 365. It’s probably more than that now because the world population is approaching 8 billion.
Realizing that fact took the oomph out of the specialness of my birthday from then on and even today, I prefer not much fanfare when the calendar indicates that time of year. It’s just another day, right? And I’m at the age now where there are more days behind me than in front of me.
History tells us that birthdays were a pagan tradition to ward off evil spirits. Ancient Egyptians hailed the birthdays of their Pharaohs, who they believed were gods, with large celebrations. Romans were the first civilization to recognize the birthdays of families and friends. But it wasn’t until the early 20th century that birthday parties became a worldwide norm with a mishmash of customs. Celebrating the Quinceanera of Latin America. Slurping longevity noodles in China. Singing happy Birthday around a cake and blowing out candles in the United States. Children in Brazil eat candy that is shaped like fruit and vegetables on their birthdays. In the Caribbean, it’s common for families and friends to throw water on someone having a birthday. I kind of like the Nepalese tradition of eating colored rice yogurt and rubbing some of that yogurt on a loved one’s forehead, blessing them with long life, health, and good luck.
Maybe this year, when my not-so-special day rolls around, I’ll do something different to commemorate another year. Jump in the lake. Eat candy. Rub my morning yogurt on my forehead and wish myself the very best in the year to come. Or just eat cake and hope the house doesn’t burn down with all those lit candles!
In the end it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. Abraham Lincoln
Enjoy the passage of time.
© 2023. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved