A Birthday is a day meant to celebrate the birth of a person. Parents are happy that their wards are alive and kicking well. Most times, parents and even guardians throw parties, inviting their happy darling friends and family to come celebrate.
Birthdays are one of the greatest moments in a child’s life. It is the celebration of the fact that a person was born, reminiscing on how the child came to the world, and then showing gratitude that the child is growing and developing. We undoubtedly do not celebrate strangers’ birthdays, even though each day is the birthday of someone somewhere. We celebrate the birthdays of people that are important to us because of the joy and wellbeing they attract to our lives.
But why birthdays? Why choose to celebrate the day that you were born? Of course, childbearing may be accompanied by lots of nervousness enveloped in joy from people who are anticipating the child’s arrival. A lot of people simply love seeing the coming of new lives from the womb into the world. And that explains the reason why some cultures believe that the birth of a new born must be celebrated; and that the new born has no enemies. However, do people take into account some other complications involved in these births? What about the pain mothers go through? The stress and tensions that families are being subjected to; like, whether or not the child and the mother will make it? There are some other unforeseen consequences, for instance birth defects. Do people really care about these complications?
I once had a friend tell me that when her family members celebrate birthdays, it isn’t so much as a celebration of the child’s birth, but it is always a celebration of the sacrifices that the parents had to toil through, up to and including the immense loss of time, energy and perhaps a career’s trajectory.
So I ask; what is really worth celebrating in a birthday? Is it the contributions and sacrifices of our parents that are habitually unacknowledged or at the very least, less acknowledged than the happy child sitting at the center of the high-table? Or, is the world truly a better place because you are here? Do you truly make enough of a difference in this world because of your presence and your birth from pain and sacrifices? Or is it just another reflection of the culture and the time we live in?
Perhaps, what matters is not whether or not you make a great difference, but that you have made enough positive impact on the lives of the people surrounding you; and that they want to come and celebrate the fact that you’ve been on the earth for another impactful year which is truly a lovely idea.
The tradition of the celebrations surrounding birthdays are important for other deeper reasons and it is a special and necessary measure of childhood. Children come to depend on these events for consistency and continuity in their lives. Birthday celebrations have been particularly providing unique benefits for children cognition – socially. And then improves parent-child relationships. Celebrating a child’s birthday every year helps them to understand their growing up process, as aging each year assists them in understanding what each age means and its developmental significance. It’s not just the party or elaborate celebration that matters, but the focus on the individual child for the day and a focus on their new age and development.
Celebrating a child’s birthday allows parents to demonstrate the joy and love they have come to have due to the addition of this child to their family and the world at large. Sharing special experiences and creating memories enhances the bond and security between parent and child, it further increases secured attachment that do have lasting effects on a child’s self-esteem, development, behaviour and emotions.
Birthdays are important days in the life of every individual. It marks the very glorious day a man or otherwise is born. Some people derive joy in celebrating this memorable day with elaborate parties and funfair, others may choose to celebrate it with the less privilege, while some may not celebrate at all. In all, the love and affection from family and friends is the most fulfilling feeling and experience for the day.
In the past, the ancient African society hardly celebrated birthdays. In fact, it was non-existent. This is because there was no accurate and consistent mechanism (calendar and time piece) in place to note the various point in time. However, memorable events such as market days, festivals and the death of an icon or king among others were used to tell when an individual is born. This system was usually marred by inconsistency in identifying the specific date of birth. Hence, it was a bane to celebrating such memorable day. However, due to colonization, Africa was introduced to calendar and time piece, thus subsequent births were recorded.
For me, birthdays have become a point of reckoning, a marker in the steady progression of days that helps me take stock. I am someone who tends to appreciate how far I have travelled and what I’ve done. I tend to focus on what is next rather than what was, then. Like the New Year, I say every birthday offers an opportunity both to appreciate progress and to look ahead.
A birthday is a day that comes once a year and it should be celebrated for several reasons. A birthday is a time when a person acknowledges the anniversary of his or her birth. In most cultures, birthday celebrations are almost done in the same way. Often, birthdays are celebrated with a gift, party or some other special act. Your birth is the beginning of your life. God created you to serve a purpose in the world. Every time you have a birthday, it is an indication that you have work to do for the kingdom of God. Your birthday is a sign that you have another chance to fulfil your unique mission. So a birthday is a momentous occasion to be commemorated just as a nation commemorates its birth or an organisation celebrates its founding. A birthday is much more than an occasion to receive gifts. Your birthday is a chance to remember the day that a major event occurred, to celebrate and give thanks and to reflect upon how well you are still alive to celebrate the day you were born.
A birthday is a time to celebrate birth itself. It is an expression of thanks to God for being born and still being alive. It is an occasion to rethink your life. It is a great time to reflect on the past, evaluate your present and make plans for your future. It is a time when your past intersects with your present and future. A birthday is not only a time to think about your birth, but it is also a time to think about your rebirth. To recall your birth is to recall a new beginning. No matter how things went yesterday or last year, you always have the capacity to try again. Your birthday is a refresher, a chance for regeneration, not just materially but spiritually.
To reach another year is an achievement to have lived another year. You have another year’s worth of blessings to thank God for. Think of how many nights God has allowed you to lie down to sleep and how many mornings He has awakened you with brand new mercies. When you celebrate your birthday, you acknowledge your existence on this earth. No matter what kind of family you were destined to be born from, you are here to live your life to the fullest. Celebrating your birthday is a way to thank God that he allowed you to be born. Birthday celebrations are great ways for your family and friends to bond with you. Usually, people make a special effort to be nice to you on your birthday. Birthday presents are good, but a wish that comes from the heart is worth all the presents in this world from those who love you. I kid you not, it is the thought that counts.
Birthday celebrations do not mean that you have to have a big party every year. Sometimes, people do have parties to celebrate what they call big one such as turning 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, etc. A simple dinner with your family or a few friends usually is all it takes to make a person happy and feel appreciated. Celebrate your birthday each year, it is always good to be acknowledged that you exist on the earth.
It is good to be thankful for what you have in life and what you have accomplished. But open your eyes to the larger picture. If we are to appreciate the fruits of life, we must first appreciate the tree that bears these fruits. Time changes things, one day ends to give way to another. The earth slowly rotates and revolves. Every day is just another day. To make some days stand out, we give them a meaning, a name or a reason, even your birthday. Yet there are many who see no reason to celebrate the day they were born.
In a world where there are countless reasons to feel worthless, it is often tiny actions that matter that make you who you are. These actions almost always win us our friends and loved ones. Yes, they may not stay forever. Yes, there are countless who get lost in the various chapters of the book called life, simply because life happened. Yes, it is not a very happy feeling to look back and remember those who were once special, but are no more an active part of your life. We are taught to hold those more dear who have been with us forever.
But why should that stop you from being grateful to have those who do remain, or those who have entered your life anew? Because past experiences suggests they may not be there tomorrow? Because nothing lasts forever? If you ask me, this is precisely the reason why you should celebrate birthdays (yours and that of others), especially that of others for if you do not take time out today to build memories, to feel grateful and feel special, you may have nothing to reminisce about tomorrow.
Today, you have these people, tomorrow, you may not. But at the moment when they are a part of your life, they are or have been important. Why not make them feel that today, irrespective of what happens tomorrow. Idioms and phrases advise us to take advantage of and make good use of every day, that every single day should be special, not just a few. But we all know that’s not humanely realistic. We all have our off days when things don’t work out, when we fight and are unhappy. So, why let go of the few days that can be turned special, simply because we refuse to go along with conventions that dictates the same?
At some point in my life, I have received so many gifts even from people who had moved to different cities. It made me feel very special. These were the people whose lives I had touched at some points in life, and in doing so, they deeply touched mine. However, there were also moments when I was painfully aware of those I had left behind on my journey moving forward. Their absence was felt. These were the people who once held a special place in my daily life. They had once celebrated the very same day with so much joy with me.
Life happened, it is sad, yes. But I look back on those moments with a smile. I am thankful that at the excuse of my birthday, I expressed the importance of their presence in my life and vice versa. I now know at that moment in time, I had mattered to them.
Similarly, today I’d rather feel grateful for having been loved and cherished, for being given the life I live, for the friends who are part of my life now and who went to such great lengths to make me feel special. I’d rather do that than give in to solemnity for the lost ones, although, the moments shared with them were equally special too.
Today, I find reasons to celebrate the day, rather than pass it off as just another day. On my birthday, I count my blessings for what I have today, else, I lose it.
By Oluwadamilola Opeyemi Gogo