© 2012 Cheryl Machat Dorskind
Birthdays are complicated. Literally a birthday marks the day you were born, but psychologically the date is laced with expectations and hopeful celebrations.
I just had a birthday and thanks to social media, I marked the hatching of another year with many people around the world. I hope this new year continues to bring new friends.
Coincidentally (although I do not believe in coincidences) I was reading, “In Our Prime” by Patricia Cohen.
“The term Happy Birthday did not appear with any frequency in English language books until after the Civil War.”
Wow, I thought and read on,
“Receiving a card to mark one’s entrance into the world would have been as odd as being congratulated for growing out of a pair of shoes. The practice of sending cards began in 1870s and 1880s, when Christmas card producers retrofit leftover holiday postcards with birthday greetings. Cards created exclusively for the occasion did not appear until the twentieth century.”
I still send birthday cards and often create my own, but I admit my practice is in the minority. I only received four written cards, while I received many postings on facebook, private locked messages on G+, and emails. Surprisingly, I did not receive any e-greeting cards this year —could this be a sign of a downward trend? Interesting! In time, the history books will include a passage on how birthday cards became obsolete by 2020.
I decided to research birthdays as I was curious to know who else was born on May 25th in addition to a dear friend and my father-in-law. I also share my birthday with a new friend I met on facebook. When we first connected, I thought he was someone else, and when we realized the mistake we remained friends, an experiment to see how many degrees of separation there were between us. So far, I know of two: May 25, and Boston University.
A few things I discovered:
- Mary Cassatt was born on May 25th
- Historian Elizabeth Peck (www.las.illinois.edu) suspects birthdays went mainstream after WWII and by the 1950s they were a right to childhood for all.
- The Happy Birthday song was copyrighted in 1935 to Jessica Hill and remains protected until 2030!: http://blogcritics.org/music/article/the-absurdity-of-copyright-happy-birthday/