Why Are Birthdays Special?

Here is a slice of my Birthday Cake this year


Why Are Birthdays Special?

What is it about a birthday? Why are birthdays so special? Speaking for myself, every day that I awake and can get out of bed – unaided – is special. After all, I am older than soil (which came before dirt).

Do birthdays become more special as we age? Or are we just more grateful to be around to celebrate them? As I pondered these questions, I began to think about a few special birthday celebrations I enjoyed as a child. Come take a trip down Memory Lane (a very ancient pathway) with me.

My First Birthday

My very first special birthday was – can you guess? – the day I was born. I don’t remember too many details. Just that I was thrust out of a comfortable, warm, dark, somewhat damp but very private environment into a too bright, harsh, unfamiliar world where large strange faces often loomed over my crib making weird noises (I think it was called cooing).

My Third Birthday

Although I do not remember specific details about each year's birthday, I do remember the birthday party my mother and father gave me for my third birthday. For one thing, I was no longer the baby. A new sibling, my 5-month old sister, now joined the party. And I was scared to death by the arrival of a garishly decorated guest – the clown my parents had hired to provide amusement. All the guests were amused except me.

This is the Caterpillar Cake for my birthday next year!


My Eighth Birthday

My 8th birthday was very special, too. We were living in a small town in Illinois, Kankakee by name, which was also special because an unloved state institution was located there.

I was taking dancing lessons by then – loved the tap and acrobat, the ballet not so much. And that year on my birthday, my School of Dance was presenting a recital. Not for parents as you might expect, but for the residents of this immense cluster of buildings located on the fringe of the town.

There were ten of us who would perform – eight girls and two boys – and we were excited beyond description. A school bus was pressed into service and delivered us to our venue.

We were not told about the nature of our audience but noticed they were all dressed in very casual clothing. Men were sitting on one side of the hall; women on the other. When we all entered the large auditorium in a file, our audience – all 200 of them – started clapping and whistling like mad. And we had not even performed yet. It went to our heads.

Canvas Gym Shoes were introduced the year I was born.

Gym shoes with canvas uppers and rubber soles for men, women and children in all sizes - 75 to 90 cents
Gym shoes with canvas uppers and rubber soles for men, women and children in all sizes - 75 to 90 cents | Source

You can understand that it was the performance of our young lives. We danced our little hearts out to please that accommodating audience. And they continued to clap and yell and whistle throughout our hour-long dance recital.

Every one of us determined we would make dancing our career after being exposed to that super-appreciative audience.

Epilogue: That night we went out to dinner to celebrate my birthday. I explained to my folks that the audience that day had been so remarkable that I intended to become a professional dancer.

I overheard my mother whisper to my father, “Your daughter danced at the state insane asylum today.” When I finally learned what that meant, I changed my career aspirations.

I have enjoyed many, many, many significant birthday celebrations since then. But that 8th birthday recital was surely the pinnacle of my dancing career. I relive it every time I watch the TV show, 'Dancing with the Stars.' Just wanted to share it with you on the eve of my birthday this year. Can you guess how old I am? I’ll give you a hint; here are a few of the significant cultural events that occurred the year I was born:


Year of my Birth
First Mickey Mouse cartoon
'Steamboat Willie' produced by Walt Disney
The book, 'Lady Chatterley's Lover'
Banned for being too explicit in U.S. and U.K.
First yo-yo factory opened
Located in Santa Barbara, California
Penicillin was discoverd
By Alexander Fleming
Packaged sliced bread first sold
Cost - 9 cents per package
Herbert Hoover became President
Defeated Al Smith

Go to 2.25 (where time is shown) to see unbelievable acrobatics

I used to do all those acrobatic stunts, too (laughing like crazy).

© Copyright BJ Rakow, Ph.D. 2013. All rights reserved.

Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So." Learn to write a dynamic resume and cover letter, network effectively, interview confidently, and negotiate salary.

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Comments for Why Are Birthdays Special? 63 comments

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

Happy Birthday drbj!!! The first yo-yo factory opened in 1946. How did I do? :) I hope you have a fabulous birthday and year ahead!

mary615 profile image

mary615 3 years ago from Florida

You always say you are "older than dirt", but I give up on guessing your age. I enjoyed the video! Those gals are remarkable.

I'll bet I'm older than you! Well, Happy Birthday anyway.

Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 3 years ago from San Francisco

Love this! I was born on Christmas, so Arlene use to through my parties on random days. (Always a surprise.)

CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 3 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

They invented the wheel in the year I was born lol! I never understand people who don't celebrate their birthday just because they feel old - any excuse for a party I say!

Happy Birthday and hope you have a happy hubbing year!

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I won't bother guessing your age because I'm sure Sunshine already got the correct answer.

The year I was born is the year the Hula Hoop was invented along with the

temporary artificial heart. I had to go and google that just for interest sake.

I hope you have a funtastic fantabulous birthday. Happy Happy Birthday!!!

Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Happy Birthday dear drbj!!! What a delightful read of your memories of past birthdays with your gift of humor added as a special touch!

Paul Anka and "Put Your Head on my Shoulder" was a popular song the year I was born : )

I hope your party this year is the best of the best, as you deserve the best this life has to offer, and many, many more to come, plus many more years of hubbing along.

Hugs and love to you, young lady,

Faith Reaper

Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 3 years ago from Baltimore, MD

Oh, I want a caterpillar birthday cake this year! That looks like such fun, even though any cake is good for me.

always exploring profile image

always exploring 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

OMG, I cannot believe anyone could move their bodies like the Ross sisters. Of course you know we all Googled the year H. Hoover was elected president. You are precious and may you have many more birthdays. That cake looks scrumptious!

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Oh, I would guess we are close to the same age. Is this your birthday for real? Well Happy Birthday if it is. Wishing you many more and all that, but more importantly wishing your peace and happiness today, for this is all we really have.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

I hope that you have a very happy birthday, drbj, and that the year ahead is a wonderful one for you.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS

My dear BJ. Happy Birthday Girl!!

What a charming hub! That is some yummy looking cake! Wow! I think birthdays are quite special with each one. They are all milestones and causes for celebration. After a certain point, one feels herself becoming a member of a rather elite group of successfully-living folks, where one can be aware of surely being ‘doing something right’ and feel pleased about it. As longevity seems to be increasing generally, it’s an impressive society! People up in their 90s and beyond are continuing to work and contribute.

I’m so impressed by the Ross sisters! I was more familiar with the Andrews Sisters during those 1940s, but their talents, while admirable, were so much more limited than these Ross girls’! Those flexible contortions and acrobatic dancing skills are truly amazing! I can believe you did all those stunts, versatile as you are!

Happy *^#%th birthday, dear lady! How sly you are! I truly thought I was the eldest Hubber, so was prepared to chide you about claiming to be older than soil. Herbert Hoover, huh? So he was elected about the time of your birth and inaugurated early the next year. His term ushered in the Great Depression and he didn’t get a second one! In fact, he vacated the office the year after I was born, so we have Hoover’s presidency in common, though we were’ nt too politically inclined at the time! I remember my parents talking about him. ;-)

The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 3 years ago from Arlington, TX

Why? Mine is special because it's mine :)

MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 years ago from South Africa

Happy birthday, dearest drbj! I hope you are having one of those very special birthdays, never to be forgotten.

Awesome video of the Ross sisters :)

Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

What a delightful hub. But I refuse to guess your age, my dear. Those acrobatics are amazing, but I hurt just watching them...my goodness. Anywho, Happy Birthday, drjb! I hope it is an enjoyable as the pleasure you bring to all of us on the hub. Hugs. :-)

Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 3 years ago from Hereford, AZ

Happy Birthday and it was in 1929. Loved the video and I have never been anywhere NEAR that limber or muscular. I do have a granddaughter that might be though. I will have to let her watch this the next time she comes over. Get her little mind working.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

What a lovely hub! I have no idea of your age, 21 maybe? lol! Happy Birthday!

ocfireflies profile image

ocfireflies 3 years ago from North Carolina


Regardless of your age, I am amazed that anyone at any age can perform the acrobatics in the clip. Plus, funny does not know any age. And you are SO funny! Thanks for making me laugh. And, no matter when your birthday occurs, I know it will be a great one just because you are there putting smiles on the faces of all your birthday guests. V+

So much enjoyed,


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

Thank you, Linda, for being the very first to wish me Happy Birthday and a fabulous year. I promise to do my best to attain that. Same to you, m'dear.

Although there are terra cotta sculptures of yo yos from way back in ancient Greece, I am not quite that old. But I was born prior to '46. Re the invention of the yo yo, Pedro Flores started the first yo yo company earlier than the '40s and Donald F. Duncan bought his factory and established Duncan Toys in '46 in Luck, Wisconsin. So you did get that RIGHT!

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

Well, now you know, Mary, I AM older than dirt and I do believe you are a youngster compared to me. But I'll hang around 'til you catch up. Delighted you enjoyed those acrobatic young ladies in the video.

At my age, if I have the bad luck to fall down, I look around to see what else I can do while I'm down there! Thanks for the good wishes.

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

Thank you, Martin, for loving this. My oldest son's birthday is Dec. 26 and I always feel he is missing something since we generally try to get together on Christmas and celebrate his birthday that day, too.

Arlene is a smart cookie to surprise you with birthday parties when you don't expect them. She seems to be a 'keeper.'

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

Yo, Cynthia, that was funny! I may use that line one day: 'born the year they invented the wheel.' Getting older has never been an excuse for me not to party. Just the opposite. I believe in partying because I am still around to enjoy getting older. Thank you for the good wishes, m'dear.

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

I wish I were that young, Susan. With reference to your age, when you mentioned it was the year the Hula Hoop was invented, I am guessing you meant 1957 when the Wham-O toy company introduced it.

I don't think you meant the 14th century when children in the U.K. played with a hoop, or even 1911 when Arthur Melin and Richard Knerr are credited with inventing it.

My birthday was funtastic and fantabulous - thank you for wishing it so!

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, dear Faith. I think '63 was the year Paul Anka introduced the song, "Put Your Head on my Shoulder." Am I correct? If so, then you are just a baby, m'dear. And this year brings you a special birthday, too. Paul, BTW, is still entertaining and often sings that song.

Thank you for enjoying my birthday memories. I was laughing to myself as I recounted that 8th birthday recital. We were all so naive. I partied all day this year with a luncheon and dinner with members of my family so, yes, it was the best of the best. Thank you for your sublime wishes. As long as you read, I will write. Promise!

Hugs and Love to you, too.

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, Jeannie, thanks for stopping by. I have already ordered my Caterpillar birthday cake for next year. Chocolate frosting with white cake. Shall I put in an order for yours, too? Maybe we can get a 'twofer.'

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

Those Ross Sisters were something else, Ruby. I don't think they had a bone in their bodies. Talented beyond belief and pretty, too. Like you and me!

Have to admit I cannot remember Hoover but do know he inherited the Great Depression. Thank you, m'luv, for the sweet comment and if you ever visit my neck of the woods, let me know and I'll treat you to cake of your choice. Even the Caterpillar version.

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, Bill. Yup, that is my birthday for real, though I admit I did fib about my age for years since I was fortunate enough to look younger than my years. Ah, those were the days.

Thanks for the very good wishes which you know I also wish for you and Bev and your family, too. As Bette Davis once famously said, 'Old Age is not for Sissies' (I have a hub of the same name). But then again, age is just a number. At least that's what younger folks say. :)

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

Thank you so much, Alicia, for taking time from your illustrious biological and other research to stop by with those lovely birthday wishes. My birthday celebration was very happy and I am looking forward to more fun (within reason, of course) this coming year.

Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Oops, my Google search for my year of birth gave the incorrect information on Paul Anka : ) ... but I like your year better ... so I will go with it dear drbj!


Faith Reaper

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

Wonderfully created drbj and belated birthday wishes if it was your birthday. Loved this gem and vote up plus share. Here's wishing you a wonderful weekend.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States

Very interesing hub and a belated Happy Birthday to you! I hope it was another good one. I have not a clue as to your age since your past comments metion "older than dirt." I remember my mother watching videos like the one again. I always wanted to take tap dancing, but we didn't have much extra money, so it didn't happy. Of course, I had my own version for around the house. Voted up.

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

This is a delightful peek into the years of your youth, Drbj. I loved all the references to events during the time. I think your birth year is the year before my sis was born. I'll have to Google it to be sure.

Oh, no way! You are truly youthful.

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

Thank you, Nellieanna, for the Happy Birthday wishes and your always creative and unique comments. So now you know I was not exaggerating when I said I was older than soil. And as you pointed out, every day is a milestone. The positives are that one is still here. The negatives are that so many beloved relatives and dear friends are not.

Delighted that you liked my yummy-looking cake. If you ever visit south Florida, let me know and we'll share one together.

I, too, admired the Andrews Sisters and their impressive vocal renditions but the acrobatic versatility of the Ross Sisters is not easily matched. Their agility is supernatural. I was never THAT good.

I don't remember my folks talking about Herbert Hoover but I do recall discussions involving FDR and the New Deal. Perhaps I'll interview them both one day. Thank you, dearest Nellieanna, for your constant support. You are a national treasure, y'know.

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

You are so right, Jim. Your birthday IS special because it is yours. Happy Anticipated Birthday or Belated Birthday - whichever works for you. :)

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

Yes, indeed, dear Martie, my birthday was very special and never to be forgotten mainly because I was still here to celebrate it. :) Delighted to have you visit and thank you for the birthday wishes. I agree with you that the Ross Sisters' acrobatic accomplishments are indeed awesome.

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

What a sweet comment, Genna, hoping that my birthday is as enjoyable as the pleasure I bring to those on the Hub. Thank you, m'dear, and you do know just the right things to say.

I share your amazement at the acrobatic antics of the Ross Sisters - oh, for just a few smidgens of that agility once more. Hugs backatcha, m'luv.

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

Thank you, Becky, for the visit and the birthday greeting - your guess is almost on the button. Good luck imbuing her granddaughter with the desire to become acrobatic-enabled. Do have her watch this unbelievable video. I have never regretted all those lessons since I believe they help one keep in shape ... for a long, long time.

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

Thanks for the 'lovely hub,' Nell. And the Happy Birthday wish. Your guess of 21 as my age is absolutely, positively correct - just ignore what I wrote Becky above. :)

Vincent Moore 3 years ago

Well we can meet and share our Birthday as mine is tomorrow and I share the same year as Prince Charles so if you are anywhere close to that year, then yes, you and I Doc are close in birth. I was ROFLMAO when you wrote about dancing at the Insane Asylum. I loved playing with the yo-yo we use to have contest's on the street corners and everyone walked the dog, rocked the cradle and more. We also competed for the prettiest yo-yo;s mine was black with diamond like stones stuck on both sides of it. lol So my friend a BIG HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you, we've earned every living day of it, now we are both old as dirt too. LOL

JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

DrBJ - I'm so glad your birthday was "funtastic and fantabulous"--just the way it should be for such a fun and fabulous person! It is impossible, however, for me to believe you're older than dirt (or soil) with such a youthful, fun attitude and great sense of humor. (I, on the other hand....)

Hope your next birthday is just as terrific and that you enjoy the caterpillar cake.

Best wishes for a terrific year,


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, Kim, what a nice thing to say that 'funny does not know any age.' I've always believed that, too. You become old when you think you're old. We can't turn back the clock, unfortunately, but we do not have to live in the past.

Delighted I made you laugh with these childish episodes and thank you for the lovely birthday wishes. It was a fabulous day, m'dear. Those acrobatics were something else weren't they?

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

By all means, Faith, if '63 works for you, go for it. My lips are sealed. Hugs to you, too, m'luv.

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

Yes, it was my birthday on the 14th and I thank you, Eddy, for your birthday wishes. Thank you also for the visit, the Up and the sharing. You are the gem, y'know.

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

I knew we had a lot in common, Pamela, you have the look of an accomplished dancer, m'dear. So sad you did not have the advantage of taking tap dancing as a child - it was very big when I was young. I can still do a promising time-step - as long as it is not prolonged. :)

Thank you for the belated Happy Birthday wishes - it was a good one. Actually, by now every year is a good one! Would love to see your version of tap dancing one day. Thanks for stopping by and the Up.

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, Peg. Thanks for enjoying some of my youthful recollections and loving the references to significant events the year I was born. Give my very best to your sister and to yourself. Oh, and I do love the 'truly youthful' comment - you made my day.

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

It would be my pleasure to share birthdays with you, Vincent, and I do feel close to you in birth even though I do not share the same year as Prince Charles but I do share the same date - the 14th. So that makes us BBFFs - Best Birthday Friends Forever. Right?

Happy that you were ROFLMAO when reading my insane dancing recollection. I played with yo-yos, too, as a child and could rock the cradle but had difficulty walking the dog. Though I never owned a yo-yo as stunning as yours.

Thanks for the BIG HAPPY BIRTHDAY, but you, m'dear, only appear to be as old as dirt while I am as old as soil. But don't worry, I'll wait for you. :)

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

Thank you, Jaye, for the "funtastic and fantabulous" comments - I do appreciate that you have noticed my sense of humor and positive attitude. I am convinced after having survived these many years that that is the only way to go - no matter WHAT! And I believe you are of like mind, too.

Perhaps one day you will venture my way and we can share that Caterpillar Cake together whether it's a birthday or not. May you have a terrific year, too, m'dear.

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 3 years ago

Hope your birthday was a good one this year. I love your cake! I love how you shared your birthdays through the early years. I will have to look back and see what happened during my lifetime.

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

Yes, Dianna dear, my birthday was a VERY good one this year because I was surrounded by my loving family and good friends. With your knack for writing anecdotes, I positively look forward to your choice of lifetime recollections.

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

Oh, and happy you loved my cake (s).

Sherry 3 years ago

I look forward to celebrating your birthday next year and the years to follow my dear Mom! You are the greatest and I love you very much! You are truly an inspiration to me and I am sure all your followers!

DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Why Are Birthdays Special? Mine has been and will always be special but some people I know don't care about heir birthdays a well approached hub on this very special day, so glad you enjoyed your special day.

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

Dearest Sherry - I don't mind telling the whole world, or at the very least anyone who reads this hub, no mother could ask for a more beautiful, intelligent, loving daughter than you are to me and your family. Your heart has no boundaries. I love you! BTW, you are an inspiration to me, too.

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

How nice to meet you, Devika. I visited Dubrovnik years ago with my husband and have the loveliest memories of the town and its citizens. Beautiful, wholesome and friendly. Thank you for stopping by and yes, I did enjoy my special day. May you enjoy yours as well.

pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

ilkjlkeuiu aoinalsd thieo ddkljlxxlkjdljkt ljeljelje O those scrambled up words are because I tried some of those acrobatic stunts and got all twisted up...finally my grandson was able to pull me into shape again :D

Birthdays ...bring 'em on..

And that cake...of course your cake would look like that....

Happy Birthday or Unbirthday or however you want it to be...

Angels are on the way to you once again today ps


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

I'm twisted up from laughing at your clever comment, Patricia. Do hope you are untwisted now and thank your grandson for me for making you supple once more. Happy you appreciate my birthday cake (s). Thank you both for the Happy Birthday and the Angels. And also for the sharing, m'luv.

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 3 years ago from East Coast, United States

Hi drbj -"Don't you know that it's worth every treasure on earth

To be young at heart.

For as rich as you are, it's much better by far

To be young at heart.

And if you should survive to 105,

Look at all you'll derive out of being alive!

And here is the best part, you have a head start

If you are among the very young at heart."

I wish I could post Frank Sinatra singing this for you. And I know that you are not 105, but 85. God Bless you, drbj, and Happy Birthday.

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

What a lovely Happy Birthday song that was, Dolores, and I can hear Frank singing that duet with you. God bless you, too, m'dear and may your holiday be merry.

John MacNab profile image

John MacNab 3 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

I laughed my head off at the end, drbj - I'd assumed it was a prison. My most remarkable birthday present was my 50th. I was given a flight in a hot air balloon, and I wondered which one of the family wanted rid of me so much. Up and fun.

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 3 years ago from malang-indonesia

Everything are special for me, including my birthday. Merry Christmas n Happy New Year to you and your family. May the spirit brings you joy and happiness, Wish you all the best for the coming year!


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

Dear John - Wait a minute, I better reconsider that heading. So happy you got exactly the message I was delivering - saving the insanity for the end was my plan. Wow! what an unbelievable birthday present that hot air balloon ride was. Did you enjoy the trip? Before you started thinking about which heir might have been so anxious, that is. :)

drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida Author

Hi, pras, so nice to see you back on HP. I wish you the best, too, and a very special happy and healthy New Year.

supers49 2 years ago

I love birthdays and surprise birthdays are great! But, the best birthdays are the ones that you plan with your Mom and people think it s a Surprise birthday! I have the best Mom in the world!

drbj profile image

drbj 2 years ago from south Florida Author

So you love surprise birthdays, supers49? Me, too. Especially the ones you plan with your Mom? What a great idea. And you have the best Mom i n the world? Now that is a super coincidence. I have the best daughter in the world! On any planet! In the universe!

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