We keep track of friends and family birthdays on our calendars, and look forward to – or dread – our own, depending on the number and the circumstances.  When we’re kids, we love the attention and the gifts. As the years go by, the attention and the gifts become a little less important as the realization of aging changes, as the milestone approaches then fades into the rearview mirror.

I know I’ve enjoyed celebrating the birthdays of my great grandkids. And, no, I’m not actually old enough to have great grandkids, but the gift of my marriage afforded me this wonderful opportunity to be GiGi to some great kids who don’t know, and don’t care, how old I am. I’ve shared their births and some of life’s special moments. 

Friends and I have traded silly, spontaneous and special times over the years as we celebrate each others’ birthdays. Birthdays were not a time of hoopla in my family. But, I do remember when my parents treated me to what they believed was my first alcoholic beverage when I turned 18 (yes, there was a time gone by where the legal age was 18). I decided not to disabuse them of their gesture and innocently asked their recommendation for my “first” adult drink.  

One of my shopping enjoyments is browsing the plethora of amusing birthday cards. I have found myself laughing out loud standing in the card aisle. I’m always wondering about the people who possess the wry humor and ability to come up with some of the witty sayings that seem to appropriately accompany the picture or artwork on the cards. The creativity of some people leaves me in awe, since I was somehow left out when creativity genes were being passed out.  

The various birthday celebration traditions have also captured my imagination. I decided to spend some time perusing the internet to see what other people and cultures do to celebrate birthdays. Anyone can Google the history of birthdays, but I’ll save you the time since I did it for myself and decided to share with you. There are always fun/unusual facts about traditions that we either forgot or never knew. So, for those who enjoy a bit of trivia, here are a few things about birthdays:

Only men were allowed to celebrate their birthdays in ancient Rome.

Christians initially thought celebrating birthdays was an unholy pagan ritual. Few people could afford the ingredients for a sweet birthday cake until the advent of the Industrial Revolution.

There’s conflicting thoughts of when and where the ritual of putting candles on cakes originated. Some think it began in ancient Greece to honor Artemis, goddess of the moon. Some think it began in Germany to represent the light of life.

In Ireland, the ritual is to hold the birthday person upside down and bump his/her head on the floor. Sounds exciting for a 2 year old, but not sure how I’d feel being the bouncee.

Mexico has the piñata.

I wonder if Canadians still ambush the celebrant and rub their nose with butter or grease.

I wish everyone a Happy Birthday, whenever it may occur.

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