Celebrating the First Birthday in a Bar

first birthday

Image source: New York Post

New York City is always the trendsetter, right? Well, how do you feel about following suit on this idea — baby birthday parties in bars.

According to the New York Post, “Baby birthday parties have infested Brooklyn’s bar scene.” Really, the choice of the verb “infested” alone suggests how the Living columnist Molly Shea feels about it — or at least the page editor who wrote the headline.

Shea goes to a German beer hall on a Saturday to witness its hosting five separate first birthday bashes! The article includes a picture of parents celebrating their son’s first birthday with beer steins that are as big as the birthday boy himself! Little Dante is not nursing after this party, that’s for sure!

first birthday

Image Source: New York Post

Shea describes: “The long, wooden tables in the cavernous space… covered in Mickey Mouse tablecloths, party hats, gluten-free cupcakes and pitcher upon pitcher of German beer.” The bar’s events manager tells her “we have at least one toddler birthday party a weekend, if not more.”

According to the paper, “Kiddie celebrations are a big draw for Staten Island brewery Flagship, too. ‘At this point, the majority of parties thrown at Flagship are first birthday parties,’ says event director Tricia Sykes.” Amazing!

Why a first birthday in a bar exactly?

Space is at a premium in NYC, and renting out a play space is expensive. So, the breweries and beer halls are picking up the slack. It certainly highlights the fact that first year birthday parties are more for the adults than the babies themselves. They won’t remember, but the Moms and Dads sure deserve the opportunity to celebrate surviving the first year of parenthood.

Another Mom spoke to the Post about hosting her party at another “boozy hangout” but really focusing on the parents. She simply set up playpens and a ball pit in one area for the kids and then invited the parents to sit and sip at tap room tables. “The party was definitely more for adults,” she said.

These places are kid friendly to a point — setting limits on when children can be there for instance and discouraging parties for kids old enough to run around and wreck havoc. Still, you’ve got to imagine some other bar goers are surprised by the number of strollers in the aisles and kids running rampant.

first birthday

Image source: New York Post

Ultimately, it’s a trend that makes sense. Having lived in Chicago and Toronto I could see this idea easily taking hold there too. It’s about space and cost, and knowing your audience. Now, the trend I want to see in two decades is kids coming back to the same breweries to celebrate their turning 21 too. That could be cool nostalgia.

How Presidents Really Spend Birthdays — Hint: Not shopping

The President’s Day sales have ended, which means we’ve moved past the celebration of several U.S. Presidents on the third Monday of February. While this blog has previously shared several presidents’ lack of enthusiasm for birthday pomp and circumstance, a Washington Post columnist this year shared some great findings about just how nonplussed these guys were with their birthdays each year.

Consider George Washington: When he turned 28, he spent his birthday building a fence around his peach trees). As he got more distinguished, though, others couldn’t resist celebrating him. At his 46th birthday, a group of Revolutionary War soldiers surprised him by playing fife and drums outside his quarters at Valley Forge. One hopes the enemy was not within earshot (talk about giving away your location!).

T.J. — the man of the tall hat — wasn’t a big birthday fan either.  He reportedly said the only birthday he believed in celebrating was the nation’s. Jefferson wrote the Attorney General while president declining to let his “birthday be known” and stating he had also “engaged [his] family not to communicate it.”

Modern Presidents Embrace the Pomp 

At least FDR embraced some fun while in the White House. For his 52nd birthday, Franklin Roosevelt hosted a toga party and dressed as Caesar. First lady Eleanor Roosevelt dressed as the Oracle of Delphi, and other guests wore white robes and Grecian headbands.

FDR was also honored by 52 dancing girls carrying electrical candles and making themselves into the shape of a cake before singing Happy Birthday.

John F. Kennedy’s 45th birthday also prompted a big celebration in New York City’s Madison Square Gardens. One of the most memorable moments was Marilyn Monroe’s rendition of Happy Birthday Mr. President. Her dress also garnered attention — she had to be literally sewn into the backless gown she wore in front of 15,000 guests (Mrs. Kennedy was noticeably absent).

JFK, onstage afterwards, said: “I can now retire from politics after having had Happy Birthday sung to me in such a sweet, wholesome way.”

Bill Clinton brought his 50th birthday festivities to New York as well, with a celebration cum Democratic fundraiser at Radio City Music Hall. The event raised $10 million for the party in 1996.

President Barack Obama was a bit more moderate when he celebrated his own milestone birthday at the White House. He celebrated turning 50 with an outdoor barbecue in the Rose Garden followed by music and dancing. The guest list did include some luminaries, though: Rapper Jay-z and actor Tom Hanks attended and Stevie Wonder provided a serenade.

Birthday Popularity — An Interactive Map

Clearly, I am not the only person out there who thinks birthdays are interesting. People with a lot more talent than I have for visualization and processing data have put together a cool heat map demonstrating the popularity of different birth dates.

Any loyal readers of this blog know already that September birthdays are the top-ranked for popularity, but on his “digital sketchpad for data stories” site, Matt Stiles provides an interactive way to see where your big day lands in comparison to others in the world.

birthday popularity

Birthday Popularity Ranked

To get the results, two decades of American birthdays, from 1994 – 2014, were averaged by month and day. There’s even an estimated conception date, for those who don’t shudder to think about that reality about their own parents.

Birthday popularity

It’s interesting to see that only one of the dates in the top 10 is outside of the month of September. Apparently October 14th is a particularly appealing day for parents to get busy!

While we’re at it though, let’s take a moment to reconsider the fact that you share your birthday with an estimated 11,000 people in America alone! That’s the median number of births per day.

A couple of other things I learned? Selfishly I of course looked up my own birthday. Turns out it is more common as a date of conception (netting a June 29 birthday at 111th), than it is a date of birth (115th, with a date of conception estimated at January 13 — no, Dad, if you’re reading this, I don’t need further detail about that critical January so many years ago…some things can be kept private between you and Mom, OK?).

I may not be a fan of data and statistics if I have to do any of the calculations. But I do love it when someone makes it so easy for me to sort through and find out cool stuff. Enjoy!


Luckiest Birthdays in 2018

I have always known I had a lucky birthday. It’s my birthday. Of course it is lucky! But now fortune tellers in Japan have backed me up!

For this year at least, my birthday is the luckiest of those in my household. My husband’s comes in second, the dog is third, and the son is fourth. As he’s nine and might take being behind the dog poorly, I probably just won’t tell him.

And, since my “lucky” birthday is only the 134th most lucky birthday of the year, I’m not really doing all that hot myself.

My husband’s comes in at #185, Maddy (shown below) is #249, and the boy is #321. And before you think I’m too loopy about my dog, I really only checked hers on the list to see if my son could top someone’s birthday luck…but no (ahem) such luck.

What are the luckiest birthdays?

The list comes from a Japanese website, Medigaku, which consulted the predictions of 10 popular fortune tellers to find out the order of luckiest birth date.

If you’re expecting a baby, April 14 2018 is the day to pop him or her out. That’s thought to be the luckiest birthday on the books this year. It’s good news for actors Sarah Michelle Gellar, Anthony Michael Hell, and Adrien Brody, singer Loretta Lynn, and entrepreneur Bobbi Brown.

A Taiwan News site noted the 04/14 top spot “is a bit surprising” as “as in Japan, China, Hong Kong, the Koreas, Taiwan, and parts of Southeast Asia, the number four is a homophone with the word for death and is generally considered highly unlucky and inauspicious.”

The least lucky birthday of 2018? December 7. The anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, FYI, and the birthdate of athletes Terrell Owens, Larry Bird, John Terry, actor Nicholas Hoult, and singer Sara Bareilles.

You can read the whole list online. I highly recommend using the search function (control-F) with your birthday in month, date order! In the meantime, check out some ways people have tried birthday luck with lotteries!

The Birthday Effect’s Not So Great


Photo by atalou on Foter.com / CC BY-ND

Have you heard about “The Birthday Effect?” Apparently, researchers in the United States, England, Switzerland and Japan have found the probability of death increases on or near people’s birthdays.

The main reasons are “stress related to the birthday, increased consumption of alcohol and drugs, and the tendency of terminally ill patients to hold off their passing until their birthday.” There is also what’s called “the birthday blues,” which increases birthday suicides.

The statistical anomaly known as “The Birthday Effect” is seen in some celebrity passings, which are captured now in online round-ups. Of course, since this site aims to be THE source for everything birthday-related, we’re due for a gallery of our own. So, here goes.

Famous Birthday Effect-ers

Renaissance painter Raphael (not the Ninja Turtle named after him) died on April 6, 1520. While the cause of death on his 37th birthday is unclear, “he reportedly died after an especially wild night with his long-time lover Margherita Luti.”

Another painter who died on his birthday? Grant Wood. The American painter, best known for his American Gothic, died of cancer February 13, 1942. He was 51.

Jazz saxophonist Sidney Bechet played his final notes on his 62nd birthday. He died in France of lung cancer on May 14, 1959.

Academy-Award winning Ingrid Bergman died August 29,1982, on her 67th birthday. The iconic  Isla Lund from Casablanca had fought a long battle with breast cancer before her death. Her ashes were sent back to her home country, Sweden.

The actress may have been doing a final ode to playwright and poet William Shakespeare who is thought to have died from a heart attack on his own April 23rd birthday in 1616 at the age of 52.

Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique (and a Smith College grad — just saying) died on February 4, 2006. She died of congestive heart failure at her Washington, D.C. home on her 85th birthday.

Activist Ella Baker, who fought alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., W. E. B. Du Bois, and Thurgood Marshall, died on her 83rd birthday (December 13, 1986).

One more who rode into the sunset on his birthday? Johnny Longden. The Triple Crown-winning jockey, who rode Count Fleet to Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes wins in 1943, died in 2003. He was born and died on Valentine’s Day.

If birthdays are a reminder of loved ones for you, check out this past blog.

Birthday Secret in North Korea

I never expected to be writing about North Korea’s Kim Jong-un on this blog! But, when the opportunity presents itself to be au courant, I can’t resist.

Just this month the North Korean Supreme Leader had a birthday. But, despite the way the country’s population is trained to idolize Kim Jong-un, there was no big celebration. In fact, the birthday is not even published on the regime calendar — although he is widely believed to have turned 35 on the 8th.

This secrecy is a departure from the traditions established by his forefathers. His grandfather Kim Il-sung’s birthday is commemorated annually on April 15 as “The Day of the Sun.” His late father’s birthday also merits a national holiday, “The Day of the Shining Star,” on February 16. Both dates are marked by mandatory viewings of state broadcasts praising the leaders — and you thought having to hear your colleagues struggling to say nice things about the boss over cake in the conference room was bad.

Birthday Secret

But the current regime has worked hard to mask the very existence of Kim Jong-un’s birthday. When Dennis Rodman sang the leader “Happy Birthday” after a Pyongyang exhibition basketball game, domestic audiences were told only that the NBA player sang “a special song.”

North Korea watchers quoted in The Telegraph suggested the birthday silence may be a show of respect to Kim Jong-un’s elders. He doesn’t want to be seen as anything more than the loyal follower. He needs time to build up his own “cult of personality.”

Or maybe he just doesn’t want people telling him how he’s supposed to act since he’s a Capricorn. His Zodiac sign is credited with a “social, charming and hardworking personality.” The astrology site I reviewed also noted: “While there are many people that prefer solitude, you are most energized by social settings, where you can display your charm, warmth and wit.”  Oh well, at least he has the capricious part of being a Capricorn down cold.

birthday card

A Birthday Card Kerfuffle

As you can easily imagine, I’m all in favor of signing a group birthday card. Yes, it can be challenging to come up with something distinct to write when 15 other colleagues or peers are signing the same card, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

Nevertheless, I did get a chuckle out of the kerfuffle surrounding a recent call from the GOP to sign a virtual birthday card for Eric Trump. Someone had the idea to enlist all the nation’s Republicans in sending well wishes to the President’s second son for his 34th birthday January 6.

birthday card

The mocking responses streamed in from the twittersphere. The Huffington Post shared several:

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Happy Birthday to All

Now, of course I wish everyone a happy birthday — regardless of whether or not I agree with their political views. But, I have to agree with the many people pointing out that it’s odd for the GOP to be asking people to recognize the birthday of a private citizen, just because he’s related to the President.

Plus, really, what kind of “personal message” are you supposed to add when writing to an individual you have never met? I began this blog with a mention of my difficulties coming up with something personalized to say on a card when I was chiming in on one that several people had already signed. And that was for someone I at least know!

If you’re going to participate in social media birthday card sending, can I suggest an alternative that might mean more? There are quite often card showers for children with illnesses or elderly relatives who are removed from family. Consider this example from Hershey, Pennsylvania for a boy with cancer:

In doing this blog I even discovered on Facebook a Card Shower Club that brings together volunteers to help people commemorate milestones. Check it out!