What it's like sharing a birthday with Jesus

By Lauren Potts
BBC News

  • Published
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One of the big gripes of a Christmas birthday is the lack of appropriate wrapping paper

While people all over Britain carve turkeys, pull crackers and open gifts, spare a thought for those born on Christmas Day and other inconvenient dates. What's it really like to have your special day on a "special day"?

If you think having a birthday at Christmas time is every bit as rubbish as it sounds, you are not far wrong.

I speak from experience, having rudely disrupted my parents' festive celebrations 30 years ago by arriving two weeks early on 26 December, or Boxing Day, as it is known in the UK.

A festive birthday is all you imagined and more - or less, as is often the case when you factor in joint gifts, friends who are (understandably) unavailable, and the hours spent wandering around sofa showrooms because nothing else is open.

First world problem, right? But it can be a real drag for those who feel robbed of their special day on an annual basis.

But there are those who refuse to let it spoil their celebrations. Here are a few stories from those who share the ups and downs of what some might call unfortunate timing.

Christmas Day

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Many Christmas Day babies find they receive either mountains of presents or none at all

Safina Tai, a market research manager at the University of Bradford, said her opinion of her Christmas Day birthday had changed over the years.

"It was only when I was in school that I thought, 'what a shame', what with Christmas and birthday presents all rolled into one, but as I've got older that perception has definitely changed," said the 35-year-old mum.

"The best thing about it is everyone is around, there is a real festive spirit. We all lead such busy lives that having everyone at home makes it extra special."

Image source, Safina Tai
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Safina Tai said she tells her five-year-old son Muhammad the whole world has a day off to celebrate her birthday

BBC radio journalist Verity Cowley, 31, said she had always been plagued by the same burning questions about her date of birth: Do you have birthday cake? What about Christmas cake? Is your birthday cake Christmas cake too?

But she remained largely positive about her experience.

Image source, Verity Cowley
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Verity Cowley said she enjoys the fact her birthday has always dominated Christmas Day

"It is wonderful having a birthday on Christmas Day. It's the happiest time of year, I'm the centre of attention and I'm not required to do the washing up on a day where every pan, piece of cutlery and crockery is used," she said.

"Plus I've ruined Christmas for every single one of my siblings which, when you're younger, is a real achievement."

Image source, Catherine Pykett
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Catherine Pykett and her sister Georgina getting into the Christmas spirit

But picture assistant Catherine Pykett, 25, said while friends and family made a special effort to celebrate her Christmas birthday, it still had its downsides.

"I share a birthday with Jesus and every year I am highly embarrassed at our local Christingle when the vicar insists everyone sings to me on Christmas Eve," she said.

There was also the thorny issue of gifts, which were either absent or wrapped in Christmas paper.

"When I was born my parents decided to celebrate my birthday on 25 June, resulting in me either getting two lots of birthday presents or none at all," she added.

Boxing Day

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A birthday on 26 December often results in the much-maligned 'joint present'

As a child I thought I had won some sort of Christmas lottery because I got two sets of presents when everyone else got just one.

Sadly those days are long gone - replaced, for the most part, by the offering of a single gift and a mumbled apology about being "skint at this time of year".

I have (almost) made peace with joint presents, but the surprising casualty is the humble birthday card - summed up the year I received a hastily doctored Christmas card wishing me a "Merry Birthday".

Image source, Lauren Potts
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Lauren Potts said she was spoiled rotten as a child with piles of presents on both days

Suffice it to say, that friendship withered like a six-week-old Christmas tree. Still, it is a relatively minor cross to bear at the end of the day.

Of course, I have considered "having two birthdays like the Queen", but it's not the same - no matter how much you pretend it's your special day in June.

New Year's Day

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A guaranteed party or an afterthought? A New Year's Day birthday has its own tribulations

What about those whose birthday is everyone else's hangover?

Poet Andy Craven-Griffiths, from Leeds, said there were pros and cons.

"It used to mean joint Christmas presents and never going to school on my birthday. Today it means people remember it easily but don't want to celebrate," he said.

"Of course I could hijack New Year's Eve, when everyone's celebrating anyway, but I'd know I was pretending."

The 31-year-old also shares his birthday with his adopted twin siblings who became part of their family when he was six.

Though he didn't initially like dividing what had been his special day, he has since come to appreciate it.

"Now, a little after midnight each New Year's Day, among the flurry of texts wishing me a happy new year, there are two that carry a deeper feeling, saying something like 'Happy birthday bro' or 'Happy our birthday," he added.

Valentine's Day

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Valentine's Day is often a second thought for those whose birthdays fall on the day of romance

Charlotte Kitching, 30, said when she was younger her Valentine's Day birthday usually meant jokes about "being popular with the boys".

But as she got older, the English teacher from Swindon found love and birthdays didn't always make the best pairing.

"Boyfriends did not see the two events as separate and inevitably, Valentine's Day was forgotten," she said.

"Coupled with the fact I would spend hours planning something romantic for my other half on 'my day', it made the day slightly underwhelming."

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One of the best things about a Valentine's Day birthday is avoiding cheesy restaurants, said Rory Ling

Rory Ling, 31, from London, has typically adopted a positive attitude to 14 February.

"Being born on Valentine's Day has some good advantages. I get to re-name it St Rory's Day in honour of myself and everyone has to send me cards," he joked.

"You also get to side-step the over-priced meals out for two in cheesy restaurants by holding a party instead."

Similarly, research technician Lucy Friend said she had always loved her Valentine's Day birthday.

"Although I'm not a fan of the over commercialisation of it, it is quite fun to have reminders all over the place that my birthday is on its way."

Leap Year

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Those born on a leap year only get to officially celebrate their birthday once every four years

Primary school teacher Simon Smith said he was only just a leap year baby.

"I was born a minute after midnight and my mum tried to get me registered on the 28th instead, as she wanted me to have a birthday every year," he said.

"Sadly the doctors could not be swayed."

Mr Smith, 39, said his students found it "hilarious" he was technically only a little older than them, having celebrated just nine official birthdays.

"I usually think of my age in the number of birthdays I have had and therefore struggle to remember if I am really 38 or 39, although as I approach 40 it is more comforting to tell people I will soon be 10," he added.

Fellow leapling, Sam Brady, 25, has also fielded his fair share of birthday jokes.

"Jibes about my 'true' age have been pretty cruel throughout the years," he said. "I remember being particularly crushed by the insinuation that I was a toddler, when in actuality I'd just turned eight.

"But having the majority of my birthdays on uncertain dates means actual leap year celebrations do feel more authentic."

April Fool's Day

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Having a birthday on April Fool's Day might not be all it is cracked up to be

Being born on the day of practical jokes was both a blessing and a curse during her childhood, said media consultant Rebecca Whittington.

The biggest hurdle was getting her school friends to believe she was telling the truth about her birthday.

"I'd gaily announce to my classmates on 1 April, 'It's my birthday today,' and 'Yeah right, very funny' would usually be the response," said the mum-of-two from Leeds.

"Trying to convince them was an impossible task. However, the flip side of the coin was that once they were, my classmates would always remember my big day.

"Plus, as a child, having a birthday on an unusual day does grant you a certain classroom celebrity status, which I certainly enjoyed."