My Three Birthdays: My Paperwork Birthday

Birthday removebg preview

Today is my first of three birthdays.

There are many of us who have - what I call - a "paperwork birthday": those of us whose cultures use an alternate calendar system *and* we are no longer living within our ancestral traditions (for various reasons).

It is a day where I get birthday cards and automated email wishes from my accountant, financial advisor, health care providers, and employers.

In southern rural Vietnam, we follow the lunar calendar, within a twelve year cycle of astrology, embedded within even larger cycles and rhythms. I was born on the fourth day of the first lunar month in the Year of the Fire Snake.

This was never a problem until my family needed to fill out paperwork at the refugee camp.

They knew of the Gregorian calendar and had had some exposure to it. So my parents picked the 4th day of the 1st month of the Gregorian calendar to be my paperwork birthday....makes sense, right?

I have memories, as a child, of my parents filling in paperwork and asking each other (or me!) for my date-of-birth (and my sister's, and each of theirs), with a sinking feeling in my stomach and a wailing in my chest, thinking that my own parents did not know my date of birth.

They did know - in our ancestral calendar system - from which we had become dislocated.

I have heard that there are many refuge-seekers from the Congo genocide in Australia who all have the same paperwork birthday: the first of January.

I am so curious about whether I am alone?

Are there others out there who also have a "paperwork birthday"?

For my friends from non-Gregorian calendar systems, have you considered reclaiming your ancestral calendar and/or celebrating your birthdays accordingly?


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