Today, ladies and gentleman, is my birthday. I suppose I could therefore write a blog entry about myself, my birthday and all the things that I want. If I’m honest I don’t think that would be very difficult. But let’s face it a list of the things I want would be boring for you and frankly disappointing for me when it turned out I’m not getting all those very expensive things. So, rather more in keeping with the ethos of this blog I shall instead write about birthdays in general.
Firstly, please enjoy the following list of my favourite birthday facts (which I have just researched on the internet – source of all accurate knowledge):
- The tradition of candles on the birthday cake apparently stretches back to the ancient Greeks (what doesn’t?). They would make round cakes and put candles on the top to represent the moon in an act of offering to Artemis – Goddess of the Moon, Hunting, Animals, the Forest and many more things (greedy). Although what this has to do with birthdays I am not entirely sure…
- The Romans would celebrate birthdays with hedonistic parties, which led to the Christians rather frowning on the practise of celebrating the anniversary of one’s birth. In fact the ancient theologian Origen declared that “Christians should not only refrain from celebrating their birthdays, but should look on them with disgust.” I shan’t be following his advice.
- In some countries with an Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholic heritage, people celebrate a name day or Saints Day rather than the anniversary of their birth. It seems likely that they did this because of the dirty pagan celebrations I mentioned above.
- In North Korea nobody is allowed to celebrate a birthday on July 8th or December 17th as these are the days that Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il died. If you are lucky enough to born on one of these days you have to push your birthday 1 day later to July 9th or December 18th.
- I have just done a bit of research into who I share a birthday with…turns out that not very many famous people were born on 9th March – these were the best I could find: first man into Space – Yuri Gagarin and all round impossibly proportioned doll Barbie. What a hall of fame!
- Check out this website for some FASCINATING facts about your birthday. http://www.dayofbirth.co.uk/
- International Children’s Day is on 20th November, but in India they celebrate 14th November as Children’s Day in honour of the birthday of Jawaharlal Nehru – first president of the Indian state.
So, there you go. 7 moderately interesting facts about birthdays. My favourite is that I share a birthday with Barbie. On a more serious note I would like to talk a bit about how birthdays are important when we visit India. Every year when we visit the Boys Town the team are inundated with requests for their names, their families names and their birthdays. They make a list of these birthdays and ask the team to sign their note pads. The next time we visit they will greet team members by reciting their family members and their birthdays back to them. I think there are two reasons for this. First of all there is great value in them being able to practise their spoken English with native speakers. By having the chance to speak English like this they increase their confidence using the language, which is so important in modern India.
Secondly it demonstrates the value they find in our visit. It is quite touching to arrive at the Boys Town for only the second time and have a young boy recite personal information about you. That they have spent time memorising something about you is quite humbling.
This was only emphasised for me last year when we received an email into the Chennai Challenge account addressed to one of our team members on her birthday. It was from a boy named Vignesh, who had made the effort to remember her birthday (over 10 months since her visit) and request the use of his carer’s email account as he didn’t have access to one himself in order to let her know that he had remembered her:
Hope and wish you remember me. I am so glad to wish you a very happy BirthDay Maria. May our Lord Bless you Abundantly
I find this quite amazing, and it reminds me again of the great worth in our visits to Chennai.
So there we go – here is a picture of a birthday cake for your enjoyment. If you fancy buying me a present how about going here and making a donation towards our work and our future. Many happy returns to you all – even though it’s not your birthday!