Birthday Anxiety Around the World

birthdays

Foter.com

Birthday stress spans global borders apparently. In announcing its new Birthday on Demand service featuring character from kids’ shows singing Happy Birthday, Netflix shared many statistics too.

And loyal blog readers know I love a good birthday statistic! I’m still slowly but surely gathering data in my own birthday survey. Fill it out now — average time taken is 2 minutes!

In the meantime, I have to share Netflix’s findings based on 14,582 SurveyMonkey responses from June 26th-July 10th, 2017. The respondents were adults online who have a child 8 years or younger in the household in the United States, UK, Philippines, Singapore, India, South Korea, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Turkey, France, Germany, and Italy.

Turns out that no matter which country the parent is sweating party planning is the norm. Although less so in some countries than others:

  • 46% of French parents say birthday planning isn’t stressful, while parents in Peru and the Philippines feel most stressed about kids’ birthdays (77%).
  • Parents in Turkey (56%) and India (52%) felt the most social media heat around their kids’ birthday parties.
  • Meanwhile, 91% of parents in Mexico have hosted character-themed parties for their children.
  • While all parents were more interested in saving money than time when it came to party planning (54% vs. 42%), Italian parents were most interested in birthday money-saving measures (72%).
  • Brazilian parents on the other hand, go all out for birthdays, racking up an average bill of $620 (vs. a global average of $250).

I’m sad these are all the results the company shared from its study. Some of the countries surveyed aren’t even mentioned! If my birthday book is ever accepted for publication, I’ll be following up with them to see if they’ll share the full survey results with me.

In the meantime, hope this glimpse into the global birthday psyche has made you feel just a little bit better about the anxiety you might feel preparing for your birthday prince or princess’s big day.

 

 

Appreciating the Birthday Spirit

Birthday kindness

Today marks the official end of my birthday week. Really, it’s been more like a birthday fortnight. Since, I started treating myself to “birthday” treats once Oct. 1 rolled around. As one more way to battle the letdown that I must now wait another year before celebrating again, I thought I would share some thoughts.

On my actual birthday, I started the day doing laundry and loading the dishwasher and…wondering why on earth I was doing these things on my birthday. Just as I was about to get grumpy, I reminded myself the birthday should be seen more as a state of mind.

Really, it shouldn’t matter what day I do what, as long as I am willing to actively appreciate the good in the day — any day.

Appreciating this Birthday

On this particular birthday I appreciated:

  • A lovely voicemail to start my day from a friend who was so happy to be on her way to see pandas. The joy in her voice would have been infectious any day, so I was happy my birthday gave her cause to call me that morning.
  • Having lunch with a friend who announced to our server it was birthday. The restaurant then responded by bringing a decorated plate to the table after our meal (shown above).
  • Taking the time to go to an art gallery I’ve walked by so many times before. Turns out the property is being reclaimed to be build up into business/residential, so I was extra lucky to check out the Charlotte Art League’s space before it was bulldozed.
  • Treating myself to a pedicure while reading a new book. Really, why is it so hard on other days to allow ourselves the time to just sit and relax for an hour and not feel guilty about it?
  • Getting to catch up with family members and friends by phone.
  • Going to dinner with “my guys” and having the excuse for all of us to dress up a little more than normal (my nine-year-old even brought out his fedora for the night out!).

Now, I originally did not appreciate going on to the next restaurant, where we planned to have dessert and watch the US World Cup qualifying soccer match, and finding they did not have 3 out of 4 of their offered desserts available. But, even this I could turn around as an opportunity to get frozen yogurt that night and get chocolate cake a different night.

You’ve got to love birthday versatility.

Ultimately, though, what this day made me realize is that so many of the aspects I enjoy about a birthday can and should be replicated on other days of the year too. Take it from a birthday queen — embrace the birthday spirit every day!

 

Happy Third Birthday to this Blog!

Happy birthday to my blog! Happy birthday to me!

birthdays

Foter.com (no, that is not me in the picture. I would not be walking so gracefully in heels!)

Yep, it’s my birthday today. And, today marks the third birthday of the birthdaysarebest.com blog. Yippee.

I thought it would be fun to share some insights into the blog to date. For instance, I continue to be amazed at the global reach of my ramblings (rants?) on birthdays.

Just looking at September 2017, I had views from people in the U.S., Canada, the UK, India, Hong Kong SAR China, Indonesia, Australia, Netherlands, Mexico and China. But I’ve had people reading in Kuwait, Brazil, Philippines, India, Japan and other places too! That’s truly exciting!

My number of visitors has grown nearly 10 fold, too!

In 2014, the most viewed blog was this really short one on making a big deal about little ones’ birthdays. I don’t know if it wasn’t this cute pic of my kiddo that made it so appealing or not:

100_0755

In 2015, it was the one about different birthday traditions around the world. Complete with this creepy photo:

hungary-pulling-earlobes

2016’s top post was Who else remembers Paddy Whacks, with the ear yanking fun post coming in a close second. My blog on alternative birthday cake ideas from 2016 also did well, which makes me happy as I loved some of the options I found (although today, on my own birthday, I will no doubt be enjoying traditional chocolate cake).

Birthday cake

Photo credit: distopiandreamgirl / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

And this year, Paddy Whacks is far and away the leading blog for views. I doubt anyone has time to catch up with just three months left. But I was rewarded to see that my thoughts on making up for missing a birthday and the information I shared on your birth month impacting your personality were popular blogs too!

birthday blog

Image source

I’ll keep this in mind as I move forward into the next year of this blog. I am still pursuing publishers for the non-fiction birthday book I have started writing. But, in the meantime, I appreciate all of you readers for joining me on this blogging journey.

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions for blog ideas! Let me know what you wonder about birthdays and I’ll see what I can find out.

Birthday Character Greetings from Netflix

Netflix is looking to become even more enmeshed in our day-to-day lives. How so? The company this month announced an “easier way to make kids’ birthday dreams come true.” The fact that their initiative will only further enhance kids’ loyalty to Netflix characters is conveniently downplayed in the streaming service’s PR for its 15 Birthdays-on-Demand.

Netflix birthday

Image: Netflix.com

Instead, the company focuses on the pressure parents feel to make a birthday special. Unwieldy headline aside, “New Netflix Hack Helps Parents Blow Out the Candles on the Birthday Party Hijinks,” the press release is a smart one. It even incorporates a survey into the discussion of its new service to add credibility.

  • 44% parents admit to feeling social-media fueled pressure to give their kids a huge party
  • 69% wish they didn’t have to go Pinterest-crazy to give their kids a good time
  • 67% of parents globally agree that birthday planning is stressful

Enter Netflix to Save the Birthday

Positioning their service as a “new hack” — because everything of value today is a hack, right? — Netflix touts, “parents can simply press play and kids’ favorite characters will sing them a special birthday greeting – made just for them (or so they’ll think).”

This apparently “[takes] the celebrations to the next level – no cake baking all-nighter required – by letting kids celebrate with Trollhunters or Pokėmon, anytime, anywhere.”

In fact, kids can enjoy a special birthday performance from characters appearing in:

  • DreamWorks’ All Hail King Julien, Dinotrux or Trollhunters
  • Barbie
  • Beat Bugs
  • Las Leyendas
  • LEGO Friends or Ninjago
  • Luna Petunia
  • Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug
  • Cat Noir
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic,
  • Pokemon
  • Project Mc2
  • Skylanders Academy
  • Word Party
Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 2.56.44 PM

Image: Netflix.com

Not convinced, Netflix

OK, it’s a cute idea. I’ll likely even set up a Ninjago or Trollhunters one for my son come February. But, let’s be honest here. This is not the be-all end-all solution to birthday party angst. This is likely to be less than five minutes of fresh entertainment related to my kiddo’s birthday. That still leaves me with a birthday party to plan, cake to bake, and balloons to blow up.

Really, Netflix has just added one more thing to do. Because once a kid hears from her friends about getting a birthday greeting from Luna Petunia, she’ll be wanting one for herself too. Even putting the whole product release in terms of making life easier isn’t going to distract me from the fact that the streaming service is looking to find another foothold into the imagination of children.

But, nicely played, Netflix. Nicely played.

 

 

 

 

Lucky Powerball Birthday

birthday lottery

So, followers of this blog shouldn’t be expecting super-cool birthday presents this year. I did not win the Powerball lottery. Shucks.

But, I did see the familiar theme in the coverage following several jackpot wins — playing family birthdays!

Mavis L. Wancyzk bought a total of five tickets. For three of them she selected the numbers and the other two were computer generated. It was a combination of family birthdays and her “magic number” (4) that netted her a $758.7 million win, though.

The Chicopee, MA, immediately quit her hospital job (after 32 years) and claimed a lump sum payment of $480 million, or $336 million after taxes. It’s the largest grand prize won by a single lottery ticket in U.S. history.

Wancyzk wasn’t the only one to see a big win. There are 40 tickets worth $1 million or more, and an additional $135 million in prize money will go to 9.4 million other ticket buyers who didn’t win the jackpot

Big Win Birthdays

One of the other winners was in North Carolina. Barbara Graves’ take is a pittance compared to Wancyzk’s; but would any of us really complain about a $200,000 award?

birthday lottery

Graves picked her own numbers to win, again using birthdays. “I use my birthday, my kids’ birthday, and my granddaughters’ birthday,” she told the NC lottery’s press office.

Doing so saw her beating odds of 913,129 to win a post-tax haul of $138,915. “I was shaking and crying. I must checked my ticket a hundred times,” she said. Her big plans for the moolah? Buying a silver metallic Honda Accord.

Of course, many of those of us who did not win — not even one number?! — probably also played birthday numbers. Thus, I can’t really argue that playing birthdays is the guarantee of a golden ticket — statisticians could probably even tell us how unlikely it is. Yet, it does at least make me a little happier to know that the formula for these others’ success involved birthdays.

Your Contractual Birthday Obligations

A 17-year-old recently aimed to use her birthday to get two special requests granted. She wrote up a Birthday Contract (even with nifty calligraphy for the title) stating; “It is hereby stated as in this letter you MUST agree to any TWO of my requests no matter how selfish they may be. After all, it’s my BIRTHDAY.”

birthday contract

She also required her parents to sign again under the penalty addendum (man, I wish she’d used that word), stating the consequences of contract violation:

birthday contract

This bold one-page statement of demands finished with the note: “Good parents never back out from their promise (especially on birthdays) [Universal Law].”

Don’t mess with Dad

Dad, however, found some wiggle room. Take another look at that contract violation section and you’ll see he wrote in a “0.” before the 5000 rupee fine. He brought her haul in Pakistani rupees down dramatically. In U.S. dollars this is the equivalent of $77 down to 77 cents (valued on the July day I’m writing this).

birthday contract

There was no place visible on the contract for the daughter — who apparently is interested in medicine more than law — to sign and bind the document. So, she appears to have been outsmarted. All this was shared via her amused brother on Twitter and then picked up in The Indian Express.

It’s an entertaining story, and of course I like best that this girl is not only smart but was looking forward to being spoiled on her birthday.

A Klingon Birthday

One of my writing gigs is to put together quizzes for heywise.com. Writing a foreign language one recently I thought I’d make a joke about Klingon. Well, joke’s on me apparently. There really is a Klingon vocabulary out there and available to the world. I ended up making Klingon a test question.

But, now I need to share with you my findings about Klingon birthdays!

A wiki “teaching Klingon to the galaxy” notes that “no known canon phrase to say Happy Birthday in Klingon. Nevertheless, the existing vocabulary makes it possible to translate the idea quite well.”

Apparently, the most common version is qoSlIj DatIvjaj, literally “May you enjoy your birthday.” Yet, some “people prefer to say this as a command: qoSlIj yItIv Enjoy your birthday.” After all, the Klingons are a pretty bossy race in the Star Trek universe — even I know that!

The site I found went on to share translations of the famous “Happy Birthday” song:

 

DuQuchmoHjaj qoSlIj. May your birthday cause you to be happy.
DuQuchmoHjaj qoSlIj. May your birthday cause you to be happy.
DaHjaj bIQuchjaj [name]. May you be happy today, [name]
DuQuchmoHjaj qoSlIj. May your birthday cause you to be happy.

Or:

qoSlIj DatIvqu’jaj. May you enjoy your birthday very much.
qoSlIj DatIvqu’jaj. May you enjoy your birthday very much.
qoSlIj DatIvjaj, [name] May you enjoy your birthday, [name].
qoSlIj DatIvqu’jaj. May you enjoy your birthday very much.

There’s another one about having a splendid birthday, but that seems to be taking it too far. I just don’t think “splendid” is a word the Klingons can relate to very well.

Even the Star Trek series didn’t translate Happy Birthday — instead heralding Worf with a Klingon version of For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow, which was met with his annoyed: “that is not a Klingon song!”

P.S. This blog is in honor of my older brother without whom I would likely have no idea at all about Klingon culture.