I just don’t get commercialised birthdays

2010-05-28 10:09

In a scene from one of

my new favourite television shows The Big Bang ­Theory, there is a ­discussion

around why one of the characters has never celebrated his birthday. He says: “My

­parents celebrated ­achievements and being expelled from a birth canal was not

one of them.”

As a result, he has never had a birthday party although he is in

his 20s.

We all come from different backgrounds and, therefore, how we

celebrate birthdays is ­different. But, ­generally, it’s a day of


Perhaps we invite our friends over and there are sweets, games and


So birthdays, regardless of your age, are about ­celebrating with

those whom you love and are close to you.

Am I ­misguided in my ­perspective, ­especially when ­considering

this trend of ­birthday parties as gigs with a cover charge and ­sponsors?

­Public personalities in South Africa now have birthday parties

where we are all “invited” to pay our money to come and ­celebrate with


It seems we seek to mimic what ­international celebrities are doing

but, let’s be honest, we can’t do it the way they do.

For example, P Diddy’s ­legendary parties. At his 40th last year –

held in the Grand ­Ballroom of the Plaza in New York – there were 500 celebrity

guests (none of whom were charged at the door) including Spike Lee, Denzel

Washington, Russell ­Simmons and Jay-Z, and featured a performance by Al


No expense was spared and, while overly extravagant, it could be

argued that he was spending his birthday with his peers.

Ours, on the other hand, ­usually have sponsors to cover the costs

and we have a cover charge at the door so anyone can come. It is an unnecessary

excuse to have a gig and get validation from society that you’re truly


The way I see it, in following this trend you either have an open

gig for people to come ­celebrate your birthday – if you feel you want to

celebrate with strangers – and party up a storm, or you sell it as a


But that’s just me.

And ­perhaps because I’ve never been approached by anyone to pay

for my own party, I just don’t get it.

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