Half Birthday – Celebrating 6 Months of Life Together
The half-birthday (ハーフバースディ, ha-fu ba-sudei) is not exclusive to Japan. It’s also big the West and you may see half birthday parties or photo shoots on Pintrest or Instagram.
There all kinds of reasons supporting why you’d want to celebrate a half birthday, especially with a baby who probably won’t be able to remember it.
Chaunie Brusie over at Disney Baby summed it up nicely, I think:
In six months time, your baby has gone from a teeny, tiny bundle wrapped up into your arms to a smiling, almost-sitting, ready to munch on real food baby! There is so much that happens in those first six months of life and it is a milestone worth marking.
I was curious about this “half birthday” tradition, and I did some research.
According to this post (link in Japanese), the half birthday is a tradition from the UK and the US. Apparently, the half birthday came about because those two countries have long school holidays. Some kids have birthdays when school is not in session and they can’t celebrate their birthday when all of their friends are out on holiday. Somehow, some parents decided that if they celebrate their child’s birthday six months before or six month later, their child would be able to celebrate their birthday with their friends.
Now, I don’t know how much truth there is to this theory. I grew up in the US and don’t recall anyone in my class celebrating their birthday 6 months before or 6 months after their birthrate. Regardless of how it came about, I liked having another excuse to take photos!
For us, baby’s half birthday was a very causal event. We already had plans to visit the in-laws for O-bon, so the half birthday was a family affair. We had no party, no decorations, no staged photos. Baby simply wore a cute dress and the adults ate ice cream cake courtesy of Baskin Robbins. Incidentally, Baskin Robbins in not called Baskin Robbins in Japan but rather 31 (pronounced サーティワン sa-ti wan).
While her half birthday was a very laid back, no frills event, I’m excited for her first birthday. I have a feeling I’ll turn into one of those Pintrest moms with a super elaborate party that ends up being more geared toward adults than kids.