Not Celebrating Birthdays with Jane Austen

 

Today, I turn the ripe old age of 71. I am a VIRGO. Some of you know what that means. Some of you are about to learn. 

Horoscope.com tells us these Virgo Facts

  • Symbol:   The Virgin
  • Element:   Earth
  • Polarity:   Negative
  • Quality:   Mutable
  • Ruling Planet:   Mercury
  • Ruling House:   Sixth
  • Spirit Color:   Silver
  • Lucky Gem:   Peridot
  • Flower:   Sunflower & marigold
  • Top Love Matches: Cancer   
  • Key Traits:   Graceful, organized, kind
  • Motto:   “My best can always be better.

Smart, sophisticated, and kind, Virgo gets the job done without complaining. Virgos are amazing friends, always there to lend a hand and also lend advice. Practical Virgos are incredibly adept at big picture thinking, and planning out their life, their vacations, and what they’re going to do today isn’t a drag it makes them feel in control and secure.

Virgos have a rich inner life, and can sometimes seem shy at first meeting. A Virgo will not spill secrets right away, and it is important to earn a Virgo’s trust. But once you do, that Virgo will be a friend for life. 

Virgos expect perfection from themselves, and they may project those high standards on the other people in their lives. A Virgo hates when someone lets him or her down, even if the indiscretion is minor and unavoidable, like a last-minute cancellation. Virgos never want to disappoint the people in their lives, so they may spread themselves too thin and put themselves last.

Intelligent and a lifelong learner, Virgos loves trying new things, reading books, and learning about the world. They will happily sign up for an adult-education course, and they consider an afternoon in bed with a book pretty much ideal. A Virgo prefers an evening with good friends to a huge party and values downtime just as much as socializing. This sign does not need to fill their calendar to be content.

According to Metro, these are some of the reasons being born in September is special. 

September is the best month to be born in. Fact. Birthdays are a highlight of the year for us all because it is the one day of the year when everyone has to be nice to us. We get to eat as much as possible, people sometimes sing a little jingle and fancy presents are involved. In fact, birthdays are even better than Christmas. But the only way to make a birthday even better is by having it in September.

“Perfect weather  September babies don’t need to fret over the implications of the weather on their fierce birthday outfit when celebrating. The weather is in that blissful stage when it’s not so humid that within ten minutes your back gets sweaty, and it’s not so cold that you’ll freeze your fabulous birthday socks off. So basically werk it.

“Excellent timing The fact that summer is now over doesn’t even register on your radar, because you’re far too busy counting down until your birthday. Summertime sadness isn’t a thing for September babies, and in fact you’re a bit glad when it’s over because you know it’s time to dig out the birthday badge. Yay.

“So many outfit choices If your birthday lands in September you don’t have to deal with the trauma of squeezing yourself into a tiny dress, or a tight vest. Nope, instead you can bask in the greatness of autumn fashion, and wear the nicest jumper that you have.

And food choices As the weather gets a little cooler it’s goodbye to salads and fruit juices, and hello to lovely stodgy food like cheese potato pie and roast dinners. May as well have a roast dinner for your birthday meal.

Cool star signs  September babies are either a Virgo or a Libra. So you’re basically the most sexiest star sign around (fact) or have a strong sense of justice. None of this boring water carrier nonsense over here.

“Birthday drinks Does anyone else have a special type of alcohol dedicated to their birthday month? Probably not. September is all about Jack Daniels, and because no-one is quite sure when he was actually born the whole month is dedicated to him. A perfect excuse to have several Jack Daniels drinks. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“So much fun ahead A September birthday is a great way to kick off an entire period of absolute fun. A birthday just before the return of the Pumpkin Spiced Latte from Starbucks followed by Halloween, Bonfire Night, the new TV season and Christmas? Yeah, go on then.

“Sapphire is your birthday stone  Titanic pretty much cemented the fact that September babies are the best. Not convinced? Well does your birthday stone have an entire movie based around an expedition searching for a necklace known as ‘The Heart of the Ocean’? No, no it does not.

“Birthday getaways are cheaper We all know the best birthday present is a cheeky little getaway. And thanks to kids going back to school, you can be guaranteed to pick up a really good holiday bargain. Barcelona return flight for £50, when in August it was £200? Amazing. [It’s $1415 for a nonstop flight to London when I wrote this post on 18 July 2018. It is estimated to be $455 in mid September, with connecting flights.]

“New beginnings Everyone foolishly assumes that January is the month for a fresh start, but we all know that this is a lie. Have you ever started something in January and followed it through? Probably not. But in September you’ll actually stick to any new ventures you take up, like that new TV series that has just started, or your commitment to try everything on the new autumn Costa menu.

“Turns you into a smarty pants Apparently babies born in September have 25% more chance of getting into Oxford or Cambridge than a baby born in August. [Unfortunately, according to Facebook, which never shares Fake News, Virgos outnumber other signs of the Zodiac as serial killers. Perhaps people shouldn’t piss us off. Just saying!]  

“Empty theme parks Going to a theme park is probably the best way to celebrate your birthday, and because all the annoying little kids are back at school, September babies can indulge in queue free fun. The lack of queues and perfect weather make for the most fun you can have in the daytime. And if you make enough of a scene about it being your birthday you can probably get in for free.

All this talk of birthdays got me thinking about the lack of birthday celebrations in Austen’s novels. It is quite disheartening to have others forget one’s birthday, but it was not so for Jane Austen and her family. We know Christmas had not the “glorious significance” as it does these days, but what of birthdays? Quite simply, as Anglicans, such humoring of a person, would have been frowned upon.

Sense-and-Sensibility-007Can you think of one person in Austen’s books who even mentions a birthday? The only one which springs to mind to me is Harriet Smith in “Emma.” Harriet speaks of hers and Robert Martin’s birthdays occurring within a fortnight, and those birthdays were separated only by one day.

As readers we know many of the characters’ ages. Lydia Bennet is but fifteen when we first meet her, but she is sixteen when she marries George Wickham. Marianne Dashwood is seventeen at the beginning of “Sense and Sensibility” and is nineteen when she marries Colonel Brandon. Fanny Price is a child when she first comes to “Mansfield Park”; yet, never once are her birthdays mentioned as a passing of time. Jane Fairfax is approaching one and twenty and the prospect of becoming a governess. Charlotte Lucas at seven and twenty has “become a burden to her family.” Elizabeth Elliot is nearly thirty and not married, and Anne Elliot is seven and twenty when Captain Wentworth returns to claim her. Catherine Morland turns eighteen just before Henry Tilney claims her as his wife. Even Elizabeth Bennet must have had a birthday somewhere in the year she had taken Mr. Darcy’s acquaintance. But when? There is no mention of her chronological aging, only her emotional aging. The closest we come to knowing something of Elizabeth’s age is when she admits to being twenty to Lady Catherine. But we do not know if she was nineteen when the book began and turned twenty some time between November when she dance with Mr. Darcy at the Netherfield Ball, or whether, like me, she is a September baby, turning one and twenty after she encounters Darcy again at Pemberley. Is such true for all of Austen’s characters? Austen wrote from her life experiences. If she did not “celebrate” such milestones, why would her characters? Tell me what you think. Am I being bizarre or is there some truth in this assumption?

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2017/09/01/15-reasons-why-september-birthdays-are-the-best-2-6894594/?ito=cbshare

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About reginajeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and contemporary novels.
This entry was posted in customs and tradiitons, Great Britain, Jane Austen, Living in the UK, Pride and Prejudice, Regency era, Regency personalities, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Not Celebrating Birthdays with Jane Austen

  1. Reblogged this on britestarlites3's Blog and commented:
    Awww.. Toothless!

  2. Suzan says:

    I am imagining your assumption would be correct. We don’t celebrate birthdays and so our memories etc don’t just revolve around when it would be. If I understand what you are saying we keep track of things more by events in general. For example the Disneyland trip when you were in second grade. September always means a new start for something just because it’s habit. School starts in September and so new clothes for school, usually diet and exercise start then because the kids are gone again. Lol

    • Quite a unique way of looking at things, Suzan.
      I purchase little gifts all year long for those I love. I do not want the idea of a birthday being the only time I show my loved ones how much I cherish them. I suppose some of that comes from experiencing birthdays and Christmases where there was little to nothing to give or receive. A day on the calendar should not define our lives.

  3. I don’t think it means that birthdays were not celebrated during Jane Austen’s time, just that she didn’t see any need to use a birthday party in the plot of her stories. She also doesn’t really show us other holidays being celebrated, but I think that’s more because she was writing for her contemporary audience. Take for example modern chick lit, how often is a character’s birthday central to the plot or a major milestone? Not too often unless it’s a device for the meet-cute, or horrible consequences from celebrating a little too much. 🙂 200+ years from now, if only a handful of the most popular novels survive, readers might assume we didn’t celebrate birthdays, either, or that they were not that big of a deal.

    • I did not mean to imply Austen would not think of giving her dearest Cassandra a little something extra on her sister’s birthday, but as an Anglican, I believe Austen family would not be “self possessed” as are many of this modern era.

  4. junewilliams7 says:

    Lady Catherine asked Lizzy for her age. Mrs Bennet and Lydia were quite proud of Lydia being a bride at her age. I think Regency mothers were conscious of a daughter’s upcoming 18th birthday as that seemed to be when she had her first Season and was introduced at Court – but the Austens did not engage in that practice.

    I am guessing that Austens’ unwed ladies would mark their 30th birthday because that is when they went “on the shelf” – perhaps Miss Bingley might have been given control of her dowry if she were not married by then. Charlotte was 27 and probably not looking forward to her 30th. Elizabeth Elliot was oblivious to birthdays (and to reality!).

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