ON CELEBRATING BIRTHDAYS
Observing birth dates is cultural. In Japan, the reckoning period in determining the age of a person begins at the moment of conception and not at the day of birth. Hence, they celebrate the occasion on a specific date in a year for the boys and another for the girls; and the age is one year older that their western counterparts. In pre Hispanic Philippines, there is no such thing as birthdays.
In Africa, there are no birthdays whatsoever. Instead, they just celebrate the date when a child reaches a specific age for religious and related superstitious events.
In Egypt and China, birthdays are celebrated after a child has reached his first year. In Sudan, only children born in cities celebrate birthdays; those in remote areas do not. In India, birthdays are never a date for celebration but an occasion to shave the head of the child.
In Korea, the family celebrates as soon as the child reaches the 100th day from his birthday. In Vietnam, people are not particular about the birthday. Birthdays are celebrated by everyone during New Year’s day.
In Dutch, birthdays are celebrated on the 5th year of the child. In Israel, boys celebrate their birthdays on the 13th year and girls on their 12th year. In Muslim communities, the birth of a child is an occasion to give gifts to the poor. In Mexico, birthdays are also occasion to celebrate the day of Saints. For Native Americans, birthdays are sidelined and only those milestones in child development, like having the first step, are celebrated.
In the Philippines today, birthdays are celebrated in a combination of cultural and most especially along economic ways. For those who do not have the means to celebrate birthdays, attending the Mass is resorted to. For those with means, it is an occasion to invite the most influential, the most prominent member of the town. Birthdays are celebrated yearly and rice noodles are a principal part of presented food for guests as mandatory viand to signify long life. It is also a period for gift giving and partying. Regardless of age, except when economically struggling, birthdays are there to splurge whatever it is saved. Furthermore, there are laws in the country that virtually criminalize birthday celebration as when gift giving is seen as an act of bribery.
Oh well, I merely spent my birthday in the comfort of my room.