Another Reason Not to Visit the Dark Ages

When we imagine time travel — because all of us do — few of us decide the Dark Ages would be a great time to visit. Monty Python make it look funny in The Holy Grail, but funny from the outside watching from the comfort of our couches. We don’t actually want to live there.

There’s reference in Genesis to Pharoah celebrating a birthday. The Ancient Egyptians set aside money for garlands and animals to sacrifice to mark births. Rich Greeks celebrated the birth of a child, the child’s coming of age, and then marked an individual’s death with festivities on the anniversary of the person’s death. Plus, I already mentioned in a previous post, Caligula going a little crazy over his daughter’s first birthday. Julius Caesar also further pissed people off when he decided his birthday was a holiday fit for the gods (Oh, Caesar…when will you learn?).

But, then came the Dark Ages and the Christian Church decided celebrating one’s self was pagan. So, for about 1500 years people didn’t have birthdays. In fact, most people wouldn’t even have known when their birth date was. Lewis (1976) tells us it wasn’t until the 16th century that parish priests started recording birth dates.

So, along with your ideas of pestilence, illiteracy, disease-riddled hovels (if you were lucky), and other Dark Ages treats, add the absence of a birthday. I’d say a day without birthday candles is truly dark indeed.

Birthday tracking?

I’ve encountered a birthday-related idea that I can’t get behind. Sorry. It’s an online database of people’s birthdays. BirthDatabase.com wants to let you enter the first and last name of a friend, co-worker, or relative, as well as their approximate age, and find out on what day their birthday falls.

I’m not against someone wanting to celebrate me — uhm, I mean with me — but couldn’t they just ask me when my birthday is? The idea of someone going online to track public records to find out my birthday is creepy to me.

flickr/robjewitt

flickr/robjewitt

Fortunately, the database didn’t find me. Zero public records found. I’ll worry about what that means on another day. No need to get all existential about it, right?

My Meaning of Life Year

“One should never trust a woman who tells one her real age. A woman who would tell one that would tell one anything.” — Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance.

Well, I’m not going to tell you everything, but I will admit that I am turning 42 this year. This, after all, is my meaning of life year. If you’re a Douglas Adams Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy fan you know what I’m writing about.

42.

It’s an important number. And I’ve been waiting for this year for awhile. Who’s heard about the magic year? That’s the year that you turn the same age as the day you were born. Everyone has had one already by the time they are 31. Even those of you born on Leap Year. Mine was when I turned 6. Yeah. I’m sure I loved my birthday when I was six. But what did I know about magic years and this being the year where everything was supposed to be at its brightest?

 

Now, I’m turning 42. I may have missed my magic year, but I am not going to overlook my Meaning of Life Year. I’m hoping it means I’ll have a year in which everything about adulthood becomes clearer. Maybe even easier. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

 

You might say it’s only a birthday. I would remind you I am a person who is devoting a blog to birthdays. Think about it — I tend to have high expectations on my birthday. So why stop now at 42? It’s only just beginning!