Friday 1 March 2013

Elective birthday

I think I deprecate the relentless churning of the same-old same-old on the blogosphere, where 'sexy' news items get posted and reposted.  Saves us all from having to generate some original content, I suppose.  I do, nevertheless, lurk reading a small section of the blogosphere the sites of which have been chosen because they have referred to something that has interested me - usually by reposting.  I liked the data richness of the calendar of most popular birthdays which I saw on tywkiwdbi which in turn had seen it on TheDailyViz.  As a sort-of sheep farmer I know that it's effectively impossible to have lambs born before January or after April: the sheep only come into estrous so as to have Spring lamb - for very good evolutionary reasons that will be apparent to anyone who's watched Attenborough on The Box. So it was news to me that there is a seasonal trend in human births with a peak in late summer - 16th September is the commonest birthday.

Minnesotastan who writes tywkiwdbi noted the absence of births around Christmas and the 4th of July.  There are plenty of births on those days, of course, but they are disproportionately rare on these holidays (the data are exclusively US).  A quite staggering proportion of births in the US are carried out by C-section - much 'safer', much less likely to involve litigation.  So the birthday is largely under control of the parents and their Ob&Gyn team and nobody wants to ruin their holidays.

But I was also intrigued to note a blip in the opposite direction on 14th Feb and 17th March.  Ahhh, how romantic, to arrange to have your child delivered on Valentine's Day.  My Granny was born on 14 Feb 1893 (and lived on into a third century to die in 2001) and her parents called her Lily Valentine in honour of the day.  I'm assuming that the up-blip on 17/Mar is due to patriotic Irish Americans wanting to a) name their child Patrick Jr and b) not forget when his birthday is.  But I can't find a similar Just-So-Story to account for the excess births on 3rd March - St Cunigunde of Luxemburg's Day? Hinamatsuri ?  Alexander Graham Bell's birthday (a LOT of people work for Ma Bell) ?

1 comment:

  1. apparently I have successfully subscribed to Feeds, which I know nothing about, and dont know where to get, but it sounds promising!

    We have two birthdays here in March, the female offspring, both delivered on the floor where I type with neither pethadine or epidural or indeed a doctor in last year was that. They could have both been delivered on Pats Day and I wouldn't have the constant misery of trying to remember...why do the throw that at me on walks and as I watch telly or type on the computer