Why Birthdays Suck And It Is Not For The Obvious Reason

Yesterday was my birthday. I turned a quarter of a century old. And I don’t like birthdays. Actually, I don’t like my birthday, I don’t mind celebrating other’s birthdays. Why do I think birthdays suck?

It is not because they make me feel old, the common reason why people don’t like birthdays; I don’t even mind getting old. 

I think birthdays suck because:

1. I think the reason why they are celebrated is silly. It’s a bit pointless if you ask me.  If you really want to celebrate life, do it in a day-to-day basis by being grateful, being cheerful, and being selfless.

2. I think that somehow the alignment of the moons, and stars and planets or something affects one’s mood on their birthday. I feel silly saying this but somehow, one is be very emotional and moody on their birthday. I’ve felt it with me and seen it with others. For some reason or another, I have often cried during many of my birthdays.

3. They come with a lot of expectation. This is the main reason. I dislike the pressure that on this specific day you are supposed to have a very happy day. The expectations that you are supposed to do something “fun” and be pampered and receive gifts and cake. Why is it that one day a year you have to stop your life and be forced to be happy? Don’t get me wrong; I like happiness, and I like cake, and gifts, and fun but I don’t like that they are forced into a 24-hour span. And makes you feel bad if it doesn’t live up to expectation.

A birthday cake I made for no reason. March 2014
A birthday cake I made for no reason on March 2014 (instagram)

I received many birthday messages yesterday, and it really is nice to hear from people who you don’t normally hear from. But when they say things like: “I hope you are pampered like you deserve” and “I hope you have an amazing day!” it makes me cringe a bit.

People mean well, but I don’t celebrate birthdays and neither does my husband, so when people say things like “enjoy your cake!” and I’m not having cake whether it is because it is my choice not to celebrate or because anyone who would make me cake lives in another country, it makes me feel sad to know that I am supposed to have this awesome, joyful, cakeful day and I’m not. It’s depressing and it shouldn’t be.

What could’ve been just a normal, nice day with no pressure to have a great day, turned into a day of sadness and disappointment because I am not meeting these expectations. I guess it becomes even harder when most of your friends and family live in a different country.

I don’t normally know what day of the month it is, so if it wasn’t for Google’s reminder that my birthday was the next day and a few birthday messages received the night before, I could have totally woken up on a normal, happy with no pressure day on my birthday without knowing it was my birthday.

This is a relatively new contempt I have for birthdays though, as I definitely did not hate them during childhood. It’s hard not to enjoy them when you’ve got a piñata. I’ll leave you with some birthday fun facts.

Birthday Traditions Around The World*

Traditional birthday celebration in Maharashtra, India.
Traditional birthday celebration in Maharashtra, India. (post link)


Everyone celebrates their birthday on New Year’s Day in Vietnam, a day they refer to as “tet.” Vietnamese tradition is that the actual day of birth is not to be acknowledged. Rather, people become a year older every year at tet.


On the Atlantic side of Canada, birthday boys and girls are sometimes “ambushed” and their noses are greased, usually with butter, to ward off bad luck. A friend who lives in Pictou told the writer that “The butter got worse as you got older. It was good luck as much as torture as I remember it.”


Mexicans sure know how to have a good time, and it’s no surprise that they have the most fun tradition for children: The birthday piñata filled with candy. Grab a blindfold and a broomstick, and let the celebration begin.



In Ireland the birthday child is lifted upside down and “bumped” on the floor for good luck. The number of bumps given is the age of the child plus one for extra good luck. Breithlá sona duit


In Israel the child who’s birthday it is wears a crown made from leaves or flowers and sits in a chair decorated in streamers. Guests dance around the chair singing. The parents lift the chair while the child sits in it. Yom Huledet Sameakh


Just like that one friend you had in college, Jamaicans think dousing their friends with flour is fun. Regardless of age, tradition calls for the birthday boy or girl to be “antiqued,” or coated with flour, by friends and family, either at an organized party or as part of an ambush.

You may also like my post about when I attended a traditional birthday celebration in Maharashtra, India.


This doesn’t mean people should stop sending me birthday wishes. That would be even more depressing. Women, huh?…. so complicated.

Do you agree with any of my reasons not to like birthdays? Do you have any birthday traditions?

30 thoughts on “Why Birthdays Suck And It Is Not For The Obvious Reason

  1. Echoed my feelings exactly. Why don’t I feel accomplished or extraordinarily special on this day? Then I feel like a grump or that I’m missing something that other people have that allows them to enjoy it.

    More importantly, people should have cake everyday 😉


  2. Maybe it’s time to bring back the pinata? I don’t have cake either but I do try to make the day full of fun and kindness to others.


    1. Maybe you’re right, maybe it is time to bring back the pinata. Or simply bring the pinata from now on. It’s just way harder to obtain one here in the US.


  3. I really get what you are saying but it just seems sad to think so negatively when others are just trying to send you love. They might not feel the same way about celebrating. You can make a bigger deal out of not making a big deal ;). I think the only expectations are the ones we put on ourselves.


    1. I think you misunderstood me. I really do appreciate the nice words sent from people. I appreciate the love. I was grateful to all of them.
      But what I was trying to express is that some of this love made me feel sad because I wasn’t having a celebration and no one was making me cake. If it wasn’t my birthday, I wouldn’t feel sad if I didn’t have cake. Makes sense? I didn’t put the expectations on me, others did. They put the expectation that I should have been pampered and celebrated.
      I didn’t make a big deal out of it, I was simply sharing my thoughts on here.


      1. I am sorry for misunderstanding you!! I did not mean anything I said to be taken negatively, as I would never ever want to do that. From your response, I think what I wrote came across differently than what I meant. I am so sorry sweetie! I have nothing but love for you and what your doing! It is so easy for mistranslations when writing. Please forgive!


      2. I understand. No worries. I guess we both misunderstood each other. It definitely happens across digital communication. It is sometimes hard to convey a feeling or an intention.
        No hard feelings! 🙂


      3. Ok, good, I was worried! I felt so bad. Thank you! 🙂


      4. And I understand the cultural background. No te hicieron pastelito? Ash! 😦


      5. My husband is not the kind to make me cake or surprise me with a gift. He’s more the kind to defend me against anything, and be super supportive, and fight for me and sacrifice himself to save me… you know, things that happen every day 😉 None of the silly romantic stuff women sometimes like. But it’s okay, all the other good deeds he does balance out.


  4. I always say that if the Earth’s revolution period around the sun were 730 days we’d have half the birthdays. And I’d be 30! 🙂 And if the revolution were 182.5 days, you my dear, would now be 50! 😦 🙂 It’s jus a convention!
    Regardless: Feliz cumpleaños, sapo verde etc… 🙂
    Love the cat by the way. You can do the same to a dog, and it will still smile. Cats don’t appreciate and manifest it when humans dress them silly.
    Saludos y nuevamente feliz cumple.
    Los ingleses dicen: (y me gusta) many happy returns of the day! 🙂


    1. Ha! Exactly! It’s all relative and silly and unimportant.
      Thanks for the “feliz cumpleanos” regardless 🙂 I forgot about the sapo verde part hehe. And I’ve never heard that British version. 🙂


      1. I like the Brit version. Many happy returns of the day! A bit like Banzaï: 10,000 years of life.
        Bonita semana de cumple!


  5. Hmm. This is a very interesting post. My birthday is such a HUGE thing to me. I can’t ever have just a chilled birthday doing nothing. I always have to do something huge e.g. my next birthday I plan on being in Thailand. When people comment on my extreme plans for my birthday, I find it strange that they think it’s strange. I find it strange that they don’t make a big deal out of their birthdays. No one has ever really explained it to me, and I love this post. It totally makes sense. I also get what you are saying about how everyone is always a little more emotional on their birthday – I think this has something to do with the expectation of having only 24 hours of your birthday so you have to make a all 24 hours amazing! LOVED the parts about the celebration of birthdays in different countries…. really interesting! Always awesome to read another perspective.


    1. This comment was very interesting to me too. It is very intriguing to learn about other’s perspectives on things. I understand that so many people don’t think the same, and I love that you make a big deal out of it, I mean, I’d love to go to Thailand on my birthday, or whenever really. 😉 Thanks for sharing!


    2. I think the problem is not making a big deal of your own birthday. It’s when you expect others to do so. I think it’s great that you plan to do something special that you want to do for your birthday. Even inviting others to join you whether that be few or many according to your personality and what you are comfortable with. But in our culture birthdays do tend to suck because there has been so much conditioning to expect special treatment by those who know us and a lot of competition and one upmanship mixed into it. As children we watched as others went to great lengths to throw parties for children. The motives are many: wanting to impress others, wanting to make their children popular, earn love, etc. There is so much that is toxic and unhealthy bound up in birthdays.
      I like the tradition you shared of everyone celebrating birthdays on New Years. In China New Years is such a big party and sounds like a wonderful family time. What a wonderful idea of celebrating the years birthdays also! Everyone gets to be included and no one left out and equally acknowledged! I don’t know how exactly they do it but I envision something a banner or something like that with everyone in the families birthday listed and a cake and a toast for another year of life and blessings to be thankful for. How wonderful!


      1. I think you’re so right and something I hadn’t thought about. Expectations is always what leads to disappointment, but we do grow up with such attention and celebration that when it starts to stop it feels sad.


  6. Hi, Mani. I’m Indah. My birthday is 22 April and I didn’t celebrate my birthday either. We’re waiting to do it this weekend. However, in Bali we celebrate our birth day twice a year according to the Balinese calendar. Nice post Mani. It’s always interesting to know other’s perspective about particular thing.


    1. Hi Indah, happy birthday! Thanks for sharing the Balinese birthday custom.


  7. Emilio Pasquale April 25, 2014 — 11:49 pm

    So happy belated birthday. I hate being the center of attention on my birthday so I tend to be on vacation whenever it comes around.


  8. Phew 1 Finally i realize am not alone in the planet having such feelings about the birthdays. Honestly every year 27th April (my Birthday 😉 )is the most dull and heavy day for me. I always have so much expectations on this day but eveytime my hopes are dashed. I believe we have to check whether this is Taurian issue or is common behavior.

    Belated Happy B’de 🙂


    1. Oh! I never thought it could be a Taurian issue, maybe it is! Haha… We are quite the sensitive type. Happy belated birthday to you too!


  9. Oh my, you are so right about everything! The moodiness, the expectations, the pointlessness of celebrating birthdays — thanks for sharing this 😀


    1. Thanks for checking it out 😉 It’s nice to see when people agree with you on an unpopular opinion.


  10. today is my birthday and same is the case with me


  11. I agree. Birthdays suck and I hate that I’m not just free to skip them and the gifts and the phone calls all that cal.


  12. My birthday is the 21st too! I feel the same way. I think flashy kid birthdays create something akin to Cinderella syndrome. You’re taught this false expectation to have a big event on your birthday and as you get older, having a special day becomes more difficult to pull off (Duh, we’re a lot harder to please at 20 than we were at six and our lives are way more complicated and demanding.). Plus, it’s not my parents who plan it now, it’s me! Forget it! Too much anxiety. I almost managed to forget this year. I re-forgot 4 times today, but I never seem to make it past the date without someone reminding me. I’m like you, where I prefer not to worry about the current date, so I lose track of time too. But, since I’m sure you’ve already been reminded, congrats on making it out alive for another year! (I prefer to acknowledge how fragile life is and how many others won’t have a birthday this year. It makes the experience of a birthday feel somehow beautiful and tragic and hopeful, like cherry blossoms… and takes the focus away from me.) Take care out there!


    1. Hi Sage! I like your point of view of being grateful for what we have in our birthday, including life. I also like your cherry blossom analogy. Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂 And happy birthday!


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