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!


The Birthday Effect’s Not So Great


Photo by atalou on / 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.

Weighing Kid’s Birthday Priorities

Any reader who knows me personally likely knows how much I HATE morning talk radio. So much talking. So early in the morning. Blah blah blah. Please be quiet!

Still, I did listen to Allan & Ashley of Warm 106.9 asking listeners if it was OK to miss their kids’ graduation and birthdays. Or at least that’s what the blurb said they were talking about. See:

Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 2.42.47 PM.png

But I endured five minutes of their blathering and didn’t hear a peep about missing a kid’s birthday. GRRR.

Yet reading about my annoyances is not the reason you read this blog (or at least not the main reason). So, let’s get back on topic. Even if Allan & Ashley ignored it.

Is Missing A Kid’s Birthday OK?

I found a “happy place for smart women” site with an article addressing this very question. And the author really did talk about it…not just say they would.

The article’s author Mia Freedman admits that she did miss her two-year-old’s birthday for an important, long desired interview with a Prime Minister. But they celebrated the birthday the next day, when she returned, and her toddler didn’t much notice the difference.

It helps that the child was so young. Plus, I’m not going to say that someone should lose out on an amazing personal or professional opportunity because of a child’s birthday. Although they should think hard about it first…

But, turns out Freedman was writing in response to a comment by a UK social commentator named Katie Hopkins who said:

“I would rather earn money than be with my kids on their birthday…Why is this is so hard to understand? Work today. Enjoy tomorrow more.”

Gulp. There are too many ways I want to respond to Hopkins, and few of them are “happy.”

Hopkins’ comment caused a response that merited her time on a follow-up program in which she said:

“My children recognize that I’m on the road a lot, I have to work a lot….They understand we’re a team, we all have to work together and it only takes a few steps from special child to spoilt child and I like to think mine are simply special. If I miss the day – I haven’t forgotten the day – but if I miss the day we’ll make it up some other time.”

Make an effort is what I say

Yes, this sounds more reasonable. Still, suggesting I am spoiling my child by trying to accommodate his or her birthday gets under my skin. Obviously I would not put my kids’ birthday ahead of keeping my job and the livelihood that sustains said kid and my family.

Still, I prefer to think of prioritizing your kid’s birthday before a work engagement as telling your child they are special to you rather than spoiling them. After all, the birthday is pretty much the one day a year a child can hope to be spoiled and put first on the family priority list. Where do you stand on this issue?


Birthday Anxiety Around the World


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.



Happy Third Birthday to this Blog!

Happy birthday to my blog! Happy birthday to me!

birthdays (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 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:


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


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 Card as Time Capsule

The headline on a recent story had me thinking, “so what?” After all The Daily Times was reporting: “Mail Call: Friends swap birthday greeting back and forth for 20 years.” I was thinking, I have plenty of friends I have been wishing birthday greetings to for more than 20 years!

But I did read on, and I’m glad I did. It’s a fun thing Sherry Hillis and Patsy Lunde have done for decades. They’ve been sending the exam same Peanuts cartoon birthday card back and forth. The same one — for 20 years.

“Roses are red, cookies are chewy,” it says underneath her picture. On the inside, “A Year of Your Life has just gone Ka-Plooey! Happy Birthday!!”

But, what really makes the card special is the things they have written to each other over the years. Lunde even added pages to the card so that the two women could continue to catch up with one another every year.

Hallmark’s Loss

Lunde first picked out the card first for Hillis’s Sept. 1 birthday. Hillis turned around and sent it back to Lunde for her birthday just days later — Sept. 5.

That’s what they’ve been doing annually even as their careers took them in different directions — they started the tradition while both employed at the same hospital — and the children that they first met through (the girls swam together in school) grew up.

“Hallmark is losing money on us,” Lunde said.

I want to start this tradition with my friends right now! I love the idea of having an annual catch-up outside of the now obligatory Christmas card. The card that serves as an annual reminder also of what has come before and how much we friends continue to mean to each other.

Really, find someone you love, and start sharing a time line birthday greeting today. It will add even more to both of your special days.

A Killer Crossfit Birthday

Men’s Health recently ran a story: “This 78-year-old’s birthday workout will wreck you.” I was wrecked just by the idea of working out on my 78th birthday.

I am someone who enjoys taking it easy on my birthday. Maybe I’ll walk the dog to the park. Or, since I am really enjoying cardio kickboxing class right now, I might do that class — maybe. If it didn’t interfere with my plans for lunch or seeing a movie matinee!

Thus, I can’t fathom each year having a set workout that gets more difficult as I age (and not just because my muscles are getting older too). But that’s exactly what Jacinto Bonilla does. For him, “birthdays are definitely not a day off from the gym.” Well, he is the so-called “grandfather of Crossfit,” so that makes some sense, but check out his reps.

birthday workout

Image Source: Men’s Health

Birthday Workout

Beginning on his 69th birthday, Bonilla created a workout that pushes him to do the number of repetitions of the exercise coinciding with his age. Yes, you read that correctly, he started this tradition at 69! On July 3rd, 2017 he turned 78 and so he did:

  • 78 double unders with a jump rope
  • 78 squats,
  • 78 push-ups
  • 78 pull-ups
  • 78 wall ball shots
  • 78 kettlebell swings
  • 78 deadlifts with a 90-pound weight
  • another round of those double unders (yeah, I didn’t know what those were either — apparently you make two passes per jump instead of just one).

The workout — now known as the Jacinto Storm — has spread worldwide among Crossfitters. Bonilla told those working with him this July in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen: “If you keep it up, you’ll be fine at 78, too.”

Still, even if I wanted to be that fit, I think I might save the Storm for the day after my birthday.