Published on 7/12/2023

Today I turn 22 years old. As I am getting older and older, I am starting to not get the point in celebrating birthdays. Why do we even celebrate these kinds of days? Yes, when I was younger, I had a blast with all of the birthday parties and presents and cake, and just everything else that I did. I loved the presents I would ask for each year. I remember feeling really lucky that my birthday was in the summer and Christmas was at the end of the year, because I could always ask for much different things, whereas someone like my brother who was born in February cannot do those kinds of things. It gave me time to think about the current things I wanted. Something else that I’m also starting to realize about that is now that I am working and living on my own, most of the presents I ever could have wanted back then, I can buy myself now. I mean I was able to buy the Series X on launch day three years ago, as well as the PS5 just four months later! I was also able to buy an iPhone (yes, while it was the SE) on launch day! Buying these kinds of things most of the time leaves me just asking for money for my birthday, or things like AAA. And now I’m at the age past 21 where I feel like all that a birthday even does is remind you that you are just a year closer to death. “But every day you are also getting closer to death,” one might say. That is true. The year mark is just a bench mark. You normally don’t say “I’m 8,035 days old!” (Days since I was born) Who would even remember that? I just had to look it up because I was so unsure about it! So I wonder why today on what just seems like another normal Wednesday I am randomly getting all these texts and notifications of people wishing me to have a happy birthday. What about every other seemingly normal day? Why just today should I be happy? Oh, because I am turning one year older. While in actuality, I am just turning one day older. But we don’t celebrate thousands or hundreds of days. We only celebrate 365 (or 366 if it’s a leap year), and even then we don’t say the days, only the year. As I’m writing this, I’m starting to prove my point more and more. Is my birthday like a holiday? I technically only had one “birth day. ” The only other person’s birth that I really like celebrating is Jesus on Christmas, which is a much better birthday to celebrate, even if his birthday is seemingly in the summer. But me, having that day to celebrate for me seems wrong, definitely not to the levels of Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, and even Veterans Day. I did a little bit of research into the history of birthday celebrations to see why we do celebrate them, and here’s what I found.

From what it seems, the first ever birthday celebrations were in ancient Egypt. These celebrated the birth of pharaohs becoming gods. So it seems in that culture they were only celebrating the higher ups. There is also the pagan culture, where it is thought that spirits are more active when it is your birthday. A similar thing was also present for the greeks. These cultures seemed to have started off the birthday celebrations. In addition with the Greeks, the moon goddess Artemis was celebrated with glowing candles. While technically not celebrating her birthday, eventually the candle celebration was brought into modern day celebrations. Going along with that, making wishes by blowing out your candles was something that was thought up by the Greeks, thinking the gods will answer the wishes, therefore if you didn’t say it out loud there was more of a likelihood it would be answered. I really liked reading this next one. While I never really used noisemakers for my birthdays growing up, for the people that did, noisemakers were actually more used to get evil spirits away because they are more drawn to you on your birthday. Now, cakes is the weird one. Cakes have been around for many centuries, since the middle ages, but putting the actual candles and celebrating was not done until the 18th century with the Germans. They would celebrate a holiday called Kinderfest, which is basically a 1700s version of the modern kids birthday party. The only difference with this one is that the candles were lit in the morning and burned all day until dinner, when the cake was finally eaten. Now this last one is debatable from what I looked at online: birthday presents. The origin I have always heard of with this one is the three wisemen gifting Jesus gold, frankincense, and myrrh. There are some places that say the origin is actually older and goes back into the 500s BC, but it seems like that is the biggest mystery.

Ok, so now I am starting to feel a little bit better about how birthdays came to be celebrated. It seems to be a lot more than just celebrating being one year closer to death, but a lot about tradition. I’m excited to see what this year of being 22 brings me, and I hope that every birthday all of you reading can either find something to look forward to for the coming year, or something to look back on for the previous year.