“Growing up, on my birthday my mom would always sing an interesting rendition of Happy Birthday. It wasn’t the normal happy birthday song that people usually brush their teeth to or something to make sure they brushed them for long enough. I’m not sure exactly where she got this version from, but I do know that her mom sang it to her every year on her birthday.”
“It goes like this, ‘Happy Birthday Sophia, Sophia it’s your birthday” over an and over again and she does this little dance with her arms. I think it’s really cute but whenever I sing it to my friends or my roommates on their birthday they always look so confused. I was actually called out for it once, like ‘Sophia what is that, that is not happy birthday’.”
“So my mom’s mom always sang it to her growing up, so I assume that’s why she does it too. When I’ve asked her in the past, she always just said that’s what my mom sang to me. Her mom was born in America and lived in New Jersey and she said that she has no idea where her mom got the rendition from, but knew it was important to keep it going in the family.”
“I don’t think there are any like cultural or religious ties to it, I mean I am Jewish but all of my friends who are also Jewish have never heard of it before.”
My Interpretation of the story:
This tradition seems as though it is rooted deeply in the family rather than in a specific culture or heritage. I find it interesting that most people have not heard this rendition before, as to there are many different versions and tunes to the song happy birthday. Traditions within a family, I feel, tend to last longer and go into further generations than larger cultural traditions. Larger cultural traditions can be lost in the mix as well as be interpreted differently by different followers. Because of this, the tradition can be altered within different groups of a larger group and lose its original purpose or meaning. Keeping smaller traditions within a family can allow that tradition to remain intact and exclusive, preserving those that practice its’ ideologies and beliefs. It is important for families to somewhat separate themselves from the rest of the world with their own traditions and customs to generate tighter bonds and also, keep them on the same page because they are bound for life. I think that this rendition of Happy Birthday and the fact that it is an annual occurrence allows the family to have a sort of uniqueness that differentiates them from other families and people, and gives them the opportunity to create a personal, in group tradition.