Today, people complain about self-obsessed millennials. Yesterday, they complained about children celebrating their birthdays. When the birthday party became popular in the 19th century, people worried that it would corrupt community, spoil children, and contradict the bible. But the truth — about why we celebrate our birthdays and ourselves — is far more complicated.

EPISODE NOTES

•  Eleanor’s Three Birthdays (1867)

•  Nettie Leigh’s Birthday (1864)

• Our Birthdays, and How To Improve Them (1864)

•  Ladies Home Journal, knocking birthdays in 1913

•  How many people have ever lived on earth

•  Lessons of Altruism and Egoism in Children’s Birthday Stories

•  Some of the religious videos from YouTube, featuring people explaining why you shouldn’t celebrate your birthday: here, here, and here

And thanks to our experts interviewed in this episode:

•  Russel Belk, York University

•  Peter Stearns, George Mason University

•  Mahtab Narsimhan, author

•  Projit Mukharji, University of Pennsylvania

•  Smitha Radhakrishnan, Wellesley College

•  John Portmann, University of Virginia

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