Birthday: A Pointless Celebration

Since 2015, one thought keeps popping up in my mind: why do we celebrate birthdays? Whenever a neighbor or friend has a birthday, this abstract idea erupts in my mind voluntarily. At that time, I believed it to be a sort of boss round that we had to clear annually on the day we were delivered to this world if we wanted to level up.

But at a later stage of my life, when I matured enough to read and write, or as we say, I reached the post-conventional stage of morality, it appeared to me that the celebration of birthdays was not a religious ceremony but a contrived tradition.

The origin of this tradition took place when pharaohs were crowned in ancient Egypt. They were considered to have transformed into gods, and this divine promotion made their coronation date much more important than their birth into the world. So, they were basically celebrating the pharaoh’s “birth” as a god.

After that, the Greeks adapted this practice and added a few more elements. Later, this tradition evolved into a belief that everyone had a protective spirit or daemon who attended their birth and watched over them in life. This spirit had a mystic relation with the god on whose birthday the individual was born. The Romans followed the same idea, which later manifested in human history as the guardian angel, the fairy godmother, and the patron saint, all popular in comic books and movies.

Additionally, the Greeks started the custom of birthday candles on cakes, believing that gods were born and on their birthday any wish could be granted by lighting candles and making wishes.

Of course, cake can’t be left out of this story. Before the Industrial Revolution, cake was exclusive to the rich due to its expensive ingredients. But some great minds of the time democratized its availability, making it accessible to everyone. This can be described as mutual benefits: cake became accessible at lower prices, and the savior got their share too, a proper win-win situation.

From then on, celebrating birthdays became a smooth by-product of marketing, making us spend money on purchasing a variety of items such as cake, candles, balloons, streamers, confetti, banners, signs, and electronic or personalized gifts, all benefiting the system.

However, the 20th century’s generous gift to us was time, a byproduct intended to make us waste not only cash but also limit our lives to a stipulated end. Conversely, to be honest, time has nothing to do with human life.

Jeffrey Thomas Dixon Jr. explains this matter precisely: “Consider this: one year on Earth (the amount of time it takes for our planet to make a single revolution around the sun) is 365.25 Earth days. A year on Saturn (the time it takes to revolve around the sun) is 10,847.9 Earth days or 29.7 Earth years. So, on Saturn, I’m not even a year old (according to the human definition for ‘year’). That’s not even the planet with the longest year (the longest is Neptune at 164.8 Earth years per revolution around the sun).”

Time is an illusion. If we statistically look at it, there are 40 different calendars in current use, so time has nothing to do with the date we were born on. Our one year on Earth is equal to 29.7 years on Saturn and nearly 165 years on Neptune. Thus, time doesn’t affect us in any way; it’s us who change our position from one point to another, whereas time is linear.

There are plenty of examples to exemplify my opinion, but I’m leaving it up to you guys. If you are mature enough, you will surely seek them out yourself. If not, that’s perfectly fine. Then consider this paragraph not meant for you; ignore it like unwanted ads on YouTube.

I know people think they celebrate birthdays because it triggers the gathering of relatives and friends, but I do not think we really need to wait for a specific day to throw a party to gather our loved ones. We can do it anytime we miss them without awaiting a specified date. Some might say we celebrate to be grateful for our life, but wouldn’t it be better if we could do it every day? To me, celebrating birthdays is a social construct with no base but capitalism, like time.

I know some may think after reading this that I’m a sociopath, but it goes beyond what I am. It is to ask ourselves why we follow customs that society associates us with. I’m not against anyone who’s celebrating their birthday every year; I just see it as social imposition and delimitation.

At the end of the day, at least in the beginning months of 2024, we all know that everyone has the inalienable right to decide their own future and celebrate whatever they find to their liking. But at least now you know what’s behind this candle and cake of a birthday party.

Now you may have gotten the idea. If not, then consider tomorrow as my birthday, and you can wish me a happy birthday by getting me a birthday gift.

TAHIR JAMALI,

Shaheed Benazirabad.

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