Skip to main content

Happy Birthday to You

Of late, I've been thinking a lot about birthdays (well, I haven't, actually, but a chap's got to have a topic to write about, hasn't he?). It seems a little strange to me, celebrating the day you came into the world, crying a lot and pooping excessively. And let's face it, the way we celebrate birthdays is a little creepy. I mean, think about this:

'Several people are gathered around an object on fire, chanting a repetitive song. One among them carries a knife. They extinguish the object and plunge the knife into it. The rest of the group stops chanting and spontaneously bursts into applause. '  - Description of a birthday party by some chap on Tumblr

I mean, come on, tell me that doesn't sound like a scene from a cult horror film. But, strange cult rituals aside, I decided to do some research (read: click the first three links on a Google search) about birthdays. So, read on to learn some stuff about birthdays that you may or may not really care about.

First off, no one knows birthdays were first celebrated (actually, Wikipedia doesn't know when birthdays were first celebrated, but I assume that the entirety of mankind's learning through the ages is hosted on Wikipedia's servers). I'm actually not even going to try to guess when they began, because whatever date I come up with, someone is certain to come up with an even older date and tell me, "Come on, Ritvik, do some real research next time!" I also feel quite good about myself because I just successfully dedicated an entire paragraph to something I'm not actually going to tell you about.

So, what do people actually do on birthdays? We all know the kind of birthday where we have a cake and a bunch of people singing the Happy Birthday song (apparently, it's actually the last stanza of the "Good Morning To You" song by Patty and Mildred Hill. I still find it hard to get over the fact that I've been calling this song by  the wrong name for the entirety of my existence). In Ghana, the birthday kid gets something called "oto", which  is a dish made of made of fried, mashed sweet potato and eggs. Frankly, I'd be much happier to get a pizza and some cake or, considering it's Ghana, some chocolate, but as they say, to each their own.

Other cultures only celebrate certain birthdays. For instance, teenagers in most cultures celebrate the acquisition of the age of majority by waiting until their parents are asleep and then getting obscenely drunk at the nearest public house. Jewish boys celebrate something called a 'Bar Mitzvah' on their 13th birthdays (girls, for some reason, have it on their 12th birthdays and call it a 'Bat Mitzvah'). Honestly, I've no clue what exactly they have to celebrate, because it represents the day that they have to begin actively participating in the rituals and can no longer stay home and  watch TV while Mom and Dad head off to the synagogue. Hindu boys celebrate their 13th birthdays by sitting in front of a fire and pouring ghee into it while a priest mutters words under his breath in a language that no one really understood in the first place. And in return for their trouble, they get a string tied from their shoulders to their waists and the added responsibility of saying a mantra 108 times every day.

All of this has been an extremely long way of saying that I had no clue what I was going to write about today. I seized on the topic of birthdays because my mother's was last week. Anyway, thanks for reading. If you know about any other birthday rituals, tell me in the comments. Actually, just give me a comment saying anything at all. Seriously, if you don't, I'm coming to your house with a knife - and I ain't bringing no cake.


  1. This is so weird. I just put a cake in the oven before reading this blog! And i'm not an avid baker or anything. Are you stalking me? :)

    1. Of course he is! He stalks anything and everything XD

    2. Well... Maybe. I mean, I might not be.

  2. The Birthday song had to fight a lot for its freedom!

    1. Well, it's nice to know that I no longer have to pay a company to use the "Happy Birthday" song. Not that I ever paid anyone. It's just nice to know that I'll never have to.

  3. Wow, clearly i have the most boring birthdays. I went to Star bucks for my birthday.... that's really sad

    1. Come now, unknown, I'm sure you quite enjoyed Starbucks. Nothing wrong with a good cup of coffee, is there?

    2. Come now, unknown, I'm sure you quite enjoyed Starbucks. Nothing wrong with a good cup of coffee, is there?


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Weighing In

Today, I'm writing about something I'm actually rather proud of. Today, I'm writing about my weight loss. Over the past ten months, I've lost 12 kilos.

My parents have been begging me to start exercising since eighth grade. When I was 13, they'd boot me out of the house every day at 5:00PM and make me go running. I hated it. I barely even bothered to run, let alone push myself or stick to a diet. I ate like a trash can, sat in front of the computer all day and did nothing at all about my rapidly swelling pot belly. By the time I'd turned 15, even Dad had given up any dreams of seeing me with a flat stomach. I'd trained myself to stop looking in the mirror, and I stayed out of pictures as much as possible.

Fast-forward to the present day: I weigh 69 kilos. My stomach has all but vanished. Looking in the mirror is a satisfying experience, and I even have some muscle on my arms. I can now fit in medium-size t-shirts, and whenever I wear my old jeans, I look li…

5K:) - 2017

If you've been following my blog for a while - since the end of 2015-beginning of 2016 - you'll probably remember a post I did last year about the Thousand Smiling Faces project (I also wrote another post about it immediately after). For those of you who are too lazy to click through those links, the Thousand Smiling Faces project was a bunch of us teenagers getting McDonald's Happy Meals for 1000 kids in orphanages.

I was planning to this again on New Year's Day 2017, but couldn't get it to work out. However, Independence Day is coming up, and we're going to do it again, but this time, we've gone a little crazy - instead of working with 1000 kids, we're aiming to deliver 5000 meals! That's roughly  ₹5,00,000's worth of Happy Meals, a lot of burgers by anyone's standards.

We've also got another twist to the thing this year. Seeing as we're doing it on the 15th of August, which is India's Independence Day, and seeing as how McDon…

Exam Fever

As anyone currently in the twelfth will tell you, with varying levels of dismay, the final exams are right around the corner. Parents everywhere are seizing their children's phones and taking time off from work. Panicked screaming ensues at intervals.

I don't believe there's a person on the planet who genuinely enjoys exam season. Actually, I take that back - there's no one in India who enjoys exam season. Partially, I think this is our own fault. Exams are the most important things in an Indian student's life, so parents seem bent on bottling up all the worry and concern they have about their kid's education and allowing it to spew forth in a torrent of "No more video games!" and "Delete WhatsApp!" commands during the two months surrounding the exams. Small wonder, then, that at 17, I believe the purpose of exams is to seasonally blot the sunshine from otherwise happy lives.

This whole exam fever thing does have some upsides. Okay, one - it…