Birthdays….what a brilliant way to mark ones journey through the world. I just celebrated one. With the adults, it was lovely dinners at their homes, or in nice restaurants, but with the various children, well there was no escaping the birthday cake. Romans celebrated with feasts, naughty parties, and loads of presents. Christians old and new are a mixed lot. Early Christians believed birthdays should be looked at with utter disgust. Some even today depending on the sect, think them associated with the dark side. Origen of Alexandria, an early theologian of the Christian church, wrote in 245 A.D.: “None of the saints can be found who ever held a feast or a banquet upon his birthday, or rejoiced on the day when his son or daughter was born.” (Catholic Encyclopedia, 2003). Oh how dreary.
Early Victorians refrained from naming their babies until the one year old birthday, as so many infants did not make it to that age. Muslims like devout Christians are also a mixed bag, some say birthdays are out, and some even query the decision to celebrate Mohammed’s birthday, and others, well its just like the rest of us. Pass the cake please!
Cakes are always a big thing. In the days when sugar was rare and fabulously expensive, a cake was really a treat! We blow out candles believing that if all are blown out at the same time, our wishes will be granted. Problem is most of us already have the most important wish of all, loved ones around us. Still it’s fun to make a wish!
We first notice birthdays at the age of three. Suddenly here is a day all to ourselves. Lovely presents wrapped in crinkly paper to be torn to shreds, or if your mum was the sort, tediously pulled apart to be used again and again. You had the first slice of cake, you blew the candles out! You didn’t have to share your new toys, well not right away that is. But then as the years go on, you turn ten and suddenly the pretty wrapping paper although still exciting, has lost a little of its magic as you are incredibly impatient. Ten…only three more years to go! Eleven…two more years…twelve you start marking off the months until you are a teenager. What glory that day you turn thirteen. Finally an adult! No longer a child. It’s the teen bit in that number that really counts~!
Things crack on until you are sixteen, when you cruelly realise that you are not yet an adult until you hit that magic eighteen. Then no one can tell you want to do! You will be your own person. The glory of eighteen lasts a bit, but still there is that impatience…Twenty-one is right around the corner .
Twenty one comes and with it, freedom from all those childhood bonds. Then the years fly by too busy to pay serious attention to birthdays unless they are a party, but then any part will do. Suddenly one realises that the dreaded thirty is coming around the door and suddenly birthdays become things you want to forget. Your are getting dangerously close — never trust anyone over forty.
The Thirties swing by with those jokes about middle age spread and all, but this the is time to get out there. Forty is around the corner and life is over. No one tells you forty is the most freeing time of your life. This is when the rest of the world doesn’t matter and you really know who and what you are.
Then creeps along Fifty…do we really need to have cake again this year? Can’t let down all the kids, and why does family insist on cards with your real age on it. Suddenly you realise you can no longer lie about your age. Your child can’t really be older than you? Or can they? Science does wonders these days.
Friends tell me Sixty is the new Forty. Seventy is just fine. Eighty, I’m just glad to be here. 100? I want my card from the Queen!
Even when you are dead, for awhile anyway, you can’t escape a birthday. Loved ones, remember you on your birthday. That’s terribly sweet.
The best thing about birthdays, when you get past the delights and joys of toys, is spending time with people you love. Just talking, drinking coffee, or a glass of red wine. It’s a perfect way to slice out some time in our busy lives and share some quiet moments together.
So to all of you having a birthday sometime this year… my wish for you is to have a birthday with good friends and family. Conversation, cake, coffee, and most important of all…that birthday hug!
Do you have a special way to celebrate in your home?
When I was one,
I had just begun.
When I was two,
I was nearly new.
When I was three,
I was hardly me.
When I was four,
I was not much more.
When I was five,
I was just alive.
But now I am six,
I’m as clever as clever.
So I think I’ll be six
now and forever.
Author: A.A. Milne