Today is Liberace’s birthday. Good old, toothy, tan Liberace. He was born to the given name, Wladziu Valentino, in 1919. Specifically in West Allis, Wisconsin. If you don’t know him, he was an American pianist. My Mom loved the guy, as did so many middle-aged white women in the 1970s. He was flamboyant, and eccentric, and as gay as they come. For some reason, this cracks me up.
Lots of people have birthdays today. There’s H. H. Holmes… born in 1861. His real name is Herman Webster Mudgett. Herman got famous because he was that he was the first known American serial killer. He was born in Gilmanton, New Hampshire.
Henry Fonda. Great actor. Born in 1905. Pierce Brosnan. Bond. Janet Jackson. Mikey’s Sister.
The list goes on. Despite being born on the same date, these people have very little in common. At least, on the surface.
But, as I write, birthdays are being celebrated all around the world. Those traditions vary from region to region, but most civilizations recognize the date we became little humans.
Here in the states, we have the cake, the candles, and the song. If we are lucky, we get a gift or two. And the old “one spank for each year on earth.” But, things are a little different in some other places on our blue ball.
Just to our north, in Canada, they do a little thing called the Nose Grease. This is mostly on the Atlantic side of the country. But here is the deal. The birthday boys and girls are sometimes “ambushed” and their noses are greased. This is usually carried out with butter. The reason? Well. To ward off bad luck of course. Sounds marginal, to me.
In China, they get the long noodle. Yep. To celebrate a birthday, one is supposed to eat a plate of long noodles… symbolizing longevity. No chewing. They are just supposed to slurp it in, as long as they can.
Germany. This tradition is for guys only. When they turn 30. They have to sweep the steps of their local city hall as their friends toss rubble onto them. It is meant to be embarrassing. And they keep getting rubbled, and sweeping, until they steal a kiss from a woman who is passing by. None of this makes sense. They must have been drinking when they came up with this one.
They drink a lot in Ireland too. And here is their little bit of birthday heaven. They hold a child upside down and then “bump” them on the floor, once for every year of their age plus one for good luck. Just a little birthday fun, holding kids upside down and banging their heads on the ground. Luck of the Irish, I suppose.
There are many more. All of this seems very wide and different. The people. The traditions. The celebrations. All of it… a big mixed bag.
But the one that I find curious, and interesting, is from Vietnam. Everyone celebrates their birthday on New Year’s Day in Vietnam. They refer to this day as “tet.” The actual day of birth is not to be acknowledged. Instead…. everybody becomes a year older every year at tet. All the same.
AND. This is just another parallel of one of our biggest human truths. We are all very different. Unique. Diverse. But at the same exact moment, we are very much the same. Alike. To the core.
What a great thing for us to recognize, accept, and appreciate our uniqueness. Our diversity. While at the same time, giving notice that we are so very much the same. A great celebration.
Let’s have some cake.
The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.— Christopher McCandless
Since I don’t look like every other girl, it takes a while to be okay with that. To be different. But different is good. — Serena Williams