Is January really the worst time of year to have a birthday?

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Moya Crockett and Kat Poole
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January birthday

No one’s drinking, everyone’s skint and the festive season is rapidly disappearing in the world’s rear-view mirror. Is there anything good about having a birthday in January?  Moya Crockett and Kat Poole, two reluctant Capricorns, discuss.

Moya: I think the short answer to the above question is: yes.

Kat: And the slightly longer answer is: it’s the bleak midwinter, the fairy lights have just been taken down, and precisely no one is up for having any more fun after Christmas. It’s a wet fish of a month, truly. And it’s only got worse as I’ve got older.

Moya: As a kid, I didn’t especially mind being born in January. My birthday’s on the 12th, so everyone would already be back at school – I’d get to see my friends, and any celebrations (nothing more ostentatious than a sleepover, usually) were funded and facilitated by my parents. But it began to suck hard when I started my GCSEs. From then until I finished my postgraduate degree in 2016, Januarys were ALWAYS marred by exams, and I’d have to coax my friends out of revision to do something fun with me. Maybe I needed more rebellious friends.

Kat: You have been blessed by a 12 day buffer, Moya. My birthday falls on 3 January – which has almost always been the day I’ve gone back to school or, now I’m a grownup, back to the office after the Christmas break. And if you’re picturing me walking into the room, fresh from the holidays, and met with a chorus of ‘Happy Birthday to you…’… I regret to inform you that this has never once happened. Usually, people forget it’s my birthday entirely, or they awkwardly remember the next day. 

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Moya: Yeah, that sucks. I remember walking through the library at uni on my birthday once and a couple of people mouthing ‘happy birthday’, but in general I was roundly ignored. Now the first month of the year is dominated by the fact that no one – including me – has any money. And virtually everyone – not including me – is off the booze. It doesn’t exactly make for a celebratory atmosphere. Everyone’s in recovery from about six solid weeks of partying by the time my birthday rolls around; they’re exhausted!

Kat: Exactly! This is the worst bit, because it’s really hard to celebrate it at all. I’m inherently a people-pleaser and I feel like I need to apologise for putting more plans in people’s diaries, even if it is the only day of the year I have a really good reason to. 

Birthday cake
Is January the worst month to have a birthday? Kat and Moya have thoughts

Moya: There’s nothing more deflating than trying to organise a trip to the pub on the weekend in early-to-mid January, and getting 42 replies that are all variations on the same thing: “Hey babe, would love to, I’m doing Dry Jan so won’t be able to stay late, but will definitely pop by for a lime and soda!” HAVE A PINT WITH ME, PLEASE.

Kat: I am all for people choosing to cut down or cut out booze entirely, and if I didn’t like alcohol so much, maybe I would too. But I honestly think the evolution of Dry January from a gimmick to a given has been the worst possible thing to happen to people with January birthdays. The pub is out, bars are dead, I don’t even want to go to a club but all I’m saying is that it would be nice to have it as an option, you know?

Moya: I feel I should state that many of my friends DO step up and come out for my birthday, even though it’s a totally miserable time of year, and for that I am eternally grateful to them. Actually, I think that’s one of the other frustrating things about a January birthday – the weather is unrelentingly terrible. In November and December you occasionally get those beautiful bright, brisk, golden-blue days, but in January and February it’s basically grey and wet and freezing throughout. To say the weather limits your options is an understatement.

Kat: I’m so aware of my birthday falling during such a crap time of the year that I’ve gone out of my way to avoid organising anything big for any birthday I can remember – I’ve just done brunch somewhere nice with my closest girlfriends. I can’t think of anything more crushing than asking people to go out-out, then no one wanting to come. And I get it – I totally do! Would I choose to have my birthday in January? Probably not. But it’s the only one I’ve got!

January calendar
January birthdays: only good because it makes the festive fun last a little longer

Moya: I am so jealous of my friends who are summer babies. As a teenager I always felt a bit sorry for them because they never experienced the thrill of being the centre of attention at school on their birthday (can you tell I’m an extrovert?), but now I look at their celebratory barbeques and picnics and trips to the countryside and think, ‘I AM SO JEALOUS’. What can you reasonably ask people to do in January, considering everyone’s low on cash? The pub is the obvious option, but then again it’s not great for people who aren’t drinking. 

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Kat: Most of my friends have turned 30 in the last few years, and I’ve felt this more than ever. I’ve had an amazing time as a guest at friends’ birthdays in big country houses, playing rounders in the park, spending hours chatting in gardens with an endless supply of beers and burgers… but when I turned 30 last year I just couldn’t think what I could suggest. In the end, I booked a private room at Flight Club and played darts with about 20 people. We had a totally brilliant night, but I spent the days leading up to it genuinely worried that people would leave early or be too knackered for a night out. 

Birthday party
January birthdays: good for getting people out of the house

Moya: OK, let’s discuss the plus points of a January birthday. One good thing, I think, is that it does stave off my inevitable descent into a light seasonal depression. I still have something to look forward to once New Year’s Eve is out of the way.

Kat: Oh, yes, totally. I’ll moan about the timings, but I quite like that when it comes to the end of Christmas Proper, I know I’m getting even more presents and attention in just a few days time. I know that makes me sound vaguely narcissistic, but when your birthday is in January, you really have to get used to making it about you for a bit. You have to feed off that for a whole year! When I was younger I actually used to worry a lot about people having to buy me double the presents, but as I’ve got older it’s become so much more about the celebratory spirit and company of friends anyway.

Moya: This may be absolute rubbish, but I’d like to think it’s quite nice for other people, too – you know, someone saying, ‘Let’s all go to the pub and have a good time’. January is bleak but I actually don’t think it’s great to just hibernate and think about your resolutions for a solid month (despite the fact that our culture now venerates cancelling plans, staying indoors and watching Netflix, all in the name of self-care). It’s good to get out, it’s good to see your friends, even if you are only drinking lime and soda.

Kat: I completely agree, this is such an unexpected benefit – I actually can’t remember a single first weekend in January where I’ve had no plans, even if those plans are just eating eggs on toast with my mates, catching up over coffee, and opening a few lovely cards. A January birthday makes spending time with other people the first thing you think about going into a new year — and that’s a healthy way to begin.

Images: Getty; Unsplash


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