Are you carefree and happy when it’s your birthday? Why do we celebrate birthdays? Why is it so momentous to us?
Birthdays are celebrated everyday and everywhere. From China to North America, birthdays are milestones that are celebrated in everyone’s life. While the celebrations are different, the events and reasons to celebrate them are the same across all cultures. A birthday carries many unsaid societal norms.
For instance, in the U.S. when you turn 18, there is an expectation to start living on you’re own or go to college. In contrast, in Hispanic cultures 18th birthdays are not a big deal. If you are a Hispanic female at 15, you celebrate “Quinceanera”, and in the U.S. you have to wait one more year to celebrate your “Sweet Sixteen”- the MTV ritual.
Birthdays are the beginning and the end of personal rights and privileges. As you get older you gain the right to vote, to drive, to consume alcohol or to smoke. But as we continue to age, we start losing opportunities as well.
Birthdays are a public declaration of a new phase in your life. From childhood to adulthood, every time we reach one of the milestones, the expected behaviour from that individual changes. With age comes new roles and norms. These changes include how to behave in public, how to dress, and how to talk.
Our birthdays are a validation of identity and existence. Directly or indirectly, we evaluate ourselves against our life plan. How many times have you said to yourself, “At this age I will be married” (in my case, 25, SHOCK HORROR!) or “at this age I will be ready for retirement” (35 would be nice, thanks). Birthdays make us think, who are we? And where am I in my life?
We only have a limited number of birthdays and we always celebrate them to the fullest . Because every year that passes, each birthday will be different. Mine was yesterday, and probably the best birthday I have ever had. I was wished by family, old friends and even better, new ones. Our birthdays would mean nothing if it wasn’t for the people we are surrounded by. I am truly blessed!
By the way if today is your birthday, Happy Birthday!