Yesterday was our second anniversary, and it got me to thinking about how we celebrate milestones and what we choose to celebrate as people.
Obviously, a lot of these things are different between cultures and religions, and personal preference. I think celebrating the day you first drew breath makes sense, but some people really hate to be reminded it’s their birthday (especially women above a certain age, it seems). But everyone has something they celebrate; a day they mark as being special in their history.
I’ll always remember the first night we spent in this apartment, and the first one in the new place. Even having moved around as much as I have, I remember each last glance at a home, each last look around before climbing into the car and driving away. But some people, that stuff’s not important, or only their first place on their own or with their spouse post-wedding is.
We mark major birthdays, usually where some new privilege comes to us- the first, the fifth (when we start school here in Michigan), the tenth (double digits!), the 16th (hello driver’s license!), the 18th (age of majority in the US), the 21st (alcohol privileges)…and then usually the decades after that. Some cultures attach meaning to other birthdays, as well- the Bar/Bat Mitzvahs at 13/12 (respectively), the Quinceanera at a girl’s 15th, for example -usually with a transition to adulthood marked, as well. Many tribal cultures had rituals or ceremonies revolving around a girl’s first menstruation or a boy’s first successful hunt, which marked the same transition without a date attached. Some Catholic families celebrate children’s Saint’s day, as well as their birthday, if they were named for a Saint other than one on whose day they were born.
We mark tragedies in our lives as well as joys- who doesn’t know the date a dear friend or relative passed, or the date of a national crisis?
Not every marked date is celebrated, either. Many mothers have marked in baby books what day their children took their first steps, got their first haircut, said their first word- but there aren’t parties for the 14th anniversary of a kid’s first haircut or anything.These things that seem extraordinary to new parents are held near and dear in their memories, but are not the subject of public rejoicing for years to come. Little things like that are an example of how somewhere along the lines, we agreed as a society on the sorts of things that are worthy of memorializing.
The thing that strikes me about a lot of things we memorialize is that they are things that tie us together from common experience- everyone is born, everyone loses their baby teeth, everyone gets older with time, everyone faces change. And by remembering these dates, we unconsciously remind ourselves that we share life with those around us, even when we mark different anniversaries.
- Posted in: Miscellaneous