Thoughts for the Month


Birthdays – something each and every one of us celebrate each year. Well, we all have a birthday each year, whether or not we celebrate it!

What does a birthday mean to you? Is it something that you look forward to or is it something you would rather forget? I suppose it depends partly on how many birthdays you have already had!

The word itself is quite clear, birth day. Well, we can only have one of those, the actual day we were born, our birth day. So, why do we keep birth day (albeit, the words are joined together) to indicate it is the anniversary of our birth?

Other events in our lives, such as Wedding Anniversary or Remembrance Day, clearly indicate that they are days when we remember a specific event, but birthday somehow doesn’t fit the pattern.

Children, of course, look forward to them. It is party and present time. Their lives stretch before them and a birthday is a special event; looking forward to being an age when you can do certain things or reach the age when you can make your own decisions.

As you get older, birthdays that end with a ‘zero,’ a nought, begin to hold psychological ‘hang-ups’ for some people. 30, 40, 60, 70 – curious how people seem to get less stressed about being 50; I wonder why that is?

When I looked in the Bible, I found three references to a birthday, two of them about the same birthday.

‘On the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast for all his servants……’ (Genesis Ch. 40 v. 20)

‘But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod so much that he promised an oath to grant her whatever she might ask.’ (Matthew Ch. 14 v.6)

‘But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and for the leaders of Galilee.’ (Mark Ch. 6 v. 21)

(The Matthew and Mark passages refer to the same birthday!)

What all three passages show, is that a birthday was a time for celebrations and feasting. Sadly, if you read on, it was also a time when people could be sentenced to death.

In Genesis, Pharaoh condemns his court baker to be hanged just as Joseph had said when he interpreted the baker’s dream.

In Matthew and Mark, Herod, having sworn to give Herodias’s daughter anything she wanted, had to order John the Baptist’s death as she demanded John’s head.

Fortunately, while we may celebrate and feast, we do not demand the life of someone else.

So, we can see that birthdays have been a reason for celebrations for thousands of years and it is not a recent tradition.

It is interesting how different people deal with their birthdays. For some, it is very much an excuse to have a great celebration with friends and/or family. For others, it is a time for quiet remembrance and for others, a time to be ignored. 

I well remember when a dear Aunt reached 80. I decided that she should have a special lunch party. When I told her, because I wanted some names of folk through her life to invite, she said, ‘Oh no dear, no fuss!’ After explaining to her that it was happening, so please would she give me the names and addresses, she capitulated and even asked me to go shopping with her for a new dress. The occasion was such a wonderful occasion with so many family and friends, some of whom spanned her whole 80 years. Afterwards, she admitted to me that it was the very first party that she had ever had and she had had a wonderful time. At 90, she told me she definitely did not want another party – so, I arranged for folk to drop in to tea; she loved it. Sadly, I never had the opportunity to arrange something for her 100th.

Why have I been musing about birthdays? You’ve guessed it! I have a birthday this month and it ends with one of those noughts.

Will there be great celebrations? No – the family organised those over Easter when my husband had his birthday. They did us proud and it was wonderful to share the occasion with family and friends that went back over……a goodly number of years!

I still wonder why we call it a birthday, after all we can only really have one, but, to be honest, I can’t think of an alternative – birth anniversary is such a mouthful, isn’t it?

I do know that worrying about the number of years one is celebrating, or otherwise, is no good at all. We need to live life to the full each and every day, for we don’t know what tomorrow will bring and let’s be honest, it’s only a number; one’s attitude of mind is far more important.

So, whenever it’s your birthday, ‘Happy Birthday’ and very best wishes for very many more. 

Page last updated: 1st June 2017 7:53 PM