My lovely colleague Karen Darley at our sister paper, the Ryedale Gazette and Herald, sent me a message after reading my column which mentioned taking the Christmas decorations down on or before the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6.

She said: “It is always a dilemma in our house as my birthday is January 5, so I have often spent the day taking decorations down – not the most exciting day!”

She adds: “Apparently when I was born, after a difficult day or so, my dad returned home on January 6 and our neighbour was in a panic that all the decorations had to be down to avoid bad luck… It’s a standing joke that my birthday is at the one of the most miserable times of the year. I often got joint Christmas and birthday presents and sometimes in Christmas wrapping paper!”

This made me think about those of you who have birthdays around the festive period, and I started to wonder if you felt it was a good thing or a bad thing. And what is your experience of having a birthday at a time of the year where people are preoccupied with another massive and expensive celebration where everyone, not just you, gets presents?

There is a lady in my home village who turned 100 on December 29 and she held a large party in the church hall where most of the village attended. She made a moving speech in which she declared she was so happy to be able to have a party because during her childhood, she was never given one because of it being so close to Christmas. I felt a bit cross when I heard that because it is not the fault of the child when they are born, but rather down to the parents’ bad (or lack of) planning, and so surely the onus is on them to put in the effort to make the child feel special on their big day, keeping it separate from Christmas.

Karen’s birthday experiences influenced her decisions on when her babies were born: “I made a point to plan, as much as these things can be planned, to not have a baby at this time of year, so fortunately the eldest daughter’s birthday is in March and the younger one in May.”

Of course, you can argue that people with festive birthdays get double the presents - but do they actually? If your birthday is around Christmas, would you prefer two distinct celebrations and presents, or a joint celebration, with doubly expensive gifts?

My sister’s father-in-law, Fred, was born on Christmas Day and her husband remembers that when he was a child, they always celebrated Fred’s birthday on the morning of December 25, then started the Christmas shenanigans in the afternoon. His mum was adamant that the birthday got the attention it deserved, and there were presents to match.

Darlington and Stockton Times: My sister’s father-in-law Fred, whose birthday was on December 25. The family celebrated his

It may not have been the case when Fred was a child though. As his wife Margaret points out, Fred grew up on a farm, so there were always jobs you had to do on Christmas Day, such as feeding the livestock and milking the cows, and as such it was unlikely there was much time to celebrate Christmas, let alone a birthday too.

It is an interesting fact that the most popular time to give birth is in mid to late September, and if you count nine months backwards to when conception occurred, then guess what? It happens around Christmas and New Year, when many people are celebrating, perhaps with a drink or ten, and so they are footloose and fancy free. And hey presto, more babies are conceived at that time of year than any other. Another explanation is, apparently, that children born in September are more likely to do well in school, because they are the oldest in the class, and therefore more developed and ready to start their educational career.

But that sounds far too organised to me. It is a fact that many babies are conceived when we are relaxed, having fun, and possibly a bit tipsy. That seems to be borne out in my own experience. When I count back from when my children were born, the eldest was conceived on a summer holiday, the middle one during the Christmas/New Year holiday and the youngest around about my birthday.

And I can honestly say, there was very little planning involved in any of them.

Contact me via my webpage at, or email