The idea of birthdays is a profound thing, especially if you do not believe in reincarnation. We celebrate our birth and the births of others annually, as if in a strange way we are reborn each year. Renewed with a new year of life. Birthdays are often taken to be a celebration of life, and if this is the case why do we not celebrate death. Is it not true that we are closer to the grave each year. The idea of celebrating death in western cultures is frowned upon. Death is not a particular subject people wish to discuss, it conjures up terror, a mystery and a faith of some kind. We celebrate life without any thought given to death, we receive gifts – as we are given the gift of life. We these gifts material and metaphysical are only to be taken away.
I find it amusing that funerals are a celebration of the dead for the living. At the same time they are a celebration of a complete life having been lived. Graveyards are the same, they are built by the living for the living as a way of celebrating the dead.
In Glasgow there is a large graveyard that sites on a hill overlooking part of the city, its known as the necropolis – Latin for city of the dead. If you ever get the chance to see it it is definitely worth a look. The site is covered in very large tombstones with glamorous monuments piercing the sky in a grandiose style. As if to declare look at how important I am how wealthy I am. And yet, they are dead. You can see there large names engraved on marble, there elegant statues and crypts and yet they crumble. They have long been forgotten, no flowers have been found here. What use has wealth for the dead. Glasgow’s necropolis is not only a beautiful place to visit but a philosophical adventure, were you learn about what death means to our past culture.
I woke up this morning and started singing Happy Birthday, and then I thought well why should we have a birthday instead of a death day. We do its called a funeral but we don’t sing ‘sad death day, sad death day, sad death day dear granny, sad death day to you’. Perhaps this just highlights the absurdity of birthdays or questions why funerals be sad and birthdays be happy, why birth over death.