The birth dates of my mother, my two sisters, and my brother are in a 49-day period beginning on 15 August and ending on 2 October. When I was a child there seemed to be a crowd of late summer and early autumn family birthdays, and a crowd of people in the world who were celebrating birthdays along with them. To my parents’ credit, my 4 January birthday was celebrated with family traditions and enthusiasm the equal of any other family birth date.
As an adult, facing my wintry birth date three days after the Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve celebratory period exhausts its final piece of candy and bottle of Champagne makes me feel as if I were floating alone on a wintry birth date ice floe. Until recently, I had never met anyone else with my birth date, which was often the day people trudged back to work after the holidays. When faced with yet another celebration, I often lack the energy or desire to observe the day, and feel with sympathy the effort of those around me to gather their winter-sapped strength for one more event. I’ve thought of moving my birthday out six months, but that date is taken by America. Even my dad’s 9 December birthday, the one that felt paired with mine, seemed more fun to celebrate in its post-Thanksgiving and pre-Christmas position. All the china and silver were already at hand, and the darkest days following the winter solstice had not yet begun.
The “Which Birth Dates Are Most Common?” infographic by Mike Wiles, included in the book Best American Infographics 2013 edited by Gareth Cook; featured on Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings blog (I’ve ordered a copy so I can lose myself in its varied infographics and its introduction by David Byrne), verifies what I have long maintained, most people are born in autumn, and even my dad’s 9 December birth date is shared with more people than my 4 January date.
My two sisters thoughtfully produced my three nieces and one nephew with birth dates in the 60-day period beginning on 9 March and ending on 7 May. This gives us a new set of celebrations in a row in springtime. I am still waiting for my family winter match. Maybe in the next generation.
I do have one question about Mr. Wiles’ infographic: Why did he choose a neutral-to-funereal range of colors from beige, through a series of greenish taupes, to black to represent varying concentrations of birth dates? Why not pale-yellow to dark-saffron orange, which strikes me as a palette more representative of the creation of life. Representing the highest concentrations of births in black intrigues me. Despite my love of the color, its use here would in my mind more classically suggest an infographic of death dates, which would in itself be an interesting infographic.
How common is your birth date?
My 21st birthday.