A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

A friend’s Birthday

As it is a friend’s birthday today besides the usual and traditional Happy Birthday, I am going to discuss a bit about celebrating birthdays. Every culture celebrates a person’s birthday, most on the day itself. Some celebrate everybody’s birthday on the same day. Regardless of the date we all celebrate birthdays, but what is it we are celebrating? We celebrate to say we are happy you have been here among us for the last year. Also we include wishes for the upcoming year, for health, prosperity and other desires. In some societies that are youth appearance oriented asking a lady over a certain age how old she is, may be considered bad form, so many men wisely skip mentioning an age in those circumstances. There was a comedian who made quite a long running joke about his age being 39 and holding. In some societies besides the usual get together of family and friends, there are traditions of feeding all who show up. In Thailand it is considered meritorious to release small animals or birds on a birthday, and is usually done by the birthday person’s parents. In some Asian countries the traditional wrapping paper is gold or bright yellow, to signify wealth. My parent’s used to use birthdays to remember all the special memories of the past year they enjoyed with the birthday person.


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