Golden Birthday

Mary Dell writes: “Golden Birthday”  was an unfamiliar term until our daughter recently clued me in,  “Mom, that’s the birthday when your age is the same as the date on the calendar. So, when I turn 17 on November 17th, it will be my golden birthday.” Not sure where I will get my information after she goes to college, leaving me in my empty nest!

Yellow roses, birthday roses, dozen roses

In anticipation of her upcoming GBD, I began thinking about birthdays past. When my sister and I were little, our parents hosted traditional, circa early-1960s, parties at home with our school friends and neighborhood kids, cake and ice cream. During my teenage years, my girlfriends  all held slumber parties to celebrate our big days. Though it meant we could be served alcohol legally, I don’t recall any special drink-fest marking our 18th birthdays. Neither do I think 21 was any different from 20 or 22.

But as my 25th year drew to a close, I was in school far from my Texas family, feeling homesick and stressed-out from classwork. On October 26th, my GBD, a gorgeous bouquet of 26 yellow roses arrived at my dorm room. Neither my dad nor I knew it was a “golden” day for me; he simply wanted to me to know he was thinking of his daughter and sending love, long-distance. This was a birthday I never forgot.

By 30, I had graduated and moved into Manhattan. A group of friends threw a party, making me feel like I had dropped onto a Woody Allen movie set, in a good way.   Five years later I married and moved to the suburbs. So long, Woody!

At 39, I was pregnant with our second child and began to plan my 40th birthday “bash,” dinner out with my husband and our five-year old son. I remember what I was wearing – a pink maternity dress – and recall how the three of us celebrated.  My husband had a glass (or two) of red wine and our son and I, ice cream.

Our daughter was born three weeks later and she remains my very favorite “birthday gift.”  The yellow roses come in second.

So, in three weeks, our now nearly grown and flown daughter will receive roses from her father. While I’m not sure what color he will pick, we all know how many he will send.

special cupcake, gold cake,



  1. says

    The concept works better for some dates than others. If it’s the 1st or 30th, it doesn’t seem as noteworthy that it is also golden, does it?

  2. says

    My golden birthday was 26 – as was my husband’s – as is our anniversary. Obviously this must be a good number for us! I wish someone had sent ME 26 roses on my 26th birthday!

    • says

      Amazing what a good number 26 is for you…..Dad was really sweet to me and my sister. The roses were just one little (an greatly appreciated thing.)

  3. says

    Thanks for sharing – I have never heard of that before !!! Probably a bit late for anyone to send me 21 roses on the 21st – and seeing as I am past 42 they can’t even send 42 on the 21st. Wonder if I can get 63 in 2028 ?????
    Have the best day !

    • says

      Since you left this comment I have been wondering if those of us over the age of 31 – past our chance for a GBD – could begin a new custom of double or triple GBDs, as you suggest. Why not?

  4. says

    I love that your husband is carrying on your father’s lovely tradition of sending flowers to his daughter.

  5. LL says

    Bummer – I missed out on this concept given that my birthday is on the 1st. But I’m really excited that my daughters are the 27th and 28th, and will make sure to surprise them on their “Golden” Days.

  6. says

    Ahhhh – so a Happy Birthday is in order for you today! Happy Birthday! What a beautiful time of year to celebrate and what beautiful golden roses you’ve captured here. We’ve long celebrated golden birthdays in my family. My mom told us the “rules” when we were little. How sweet and intuitive of your father. No wonder it’s a treasured gift.

    • says

      Thanks for the BD greetings. Good for your mom that she told you about things like this. Really never heard of it till a few weeks ago. My sister and I were very fortunate to have a dad who did such sweet things, quite often.

  7. says

    I often wonder how I survive without the knowledge of my daughter as well. The seriousness of those little pieces of knowledge make me laugh. I’m glad your daughter set you straight about the GBD, so you could share this lovely post with us. Happy Birthday to you today, with a side dish of joy for the year ahead as well.

    • says

      Funny that you describe the seriousness of the lore that our teenage daughters know so well. It is a gift whenever they impart some of their young wisdom and whimsy to their moms. thanks for the birthday greetings!

  8. Marian says

    I just recently heard of the Golden Birthday. It is possible for you more senior population out there to still experience this version. Turning the age matching your birth year. Sadly, being born in 1954, I turned 54 in 2008 and was not aware that there should be extra focus on the “gold”.
    Be sure to make a note, or do the math to add some fun to an upcoming Birthday.
    Being one in a family if eight children, Our birthdays were celebrated by mom making a “money cake”. She scrubbed and wrapped coins in waxed paper to drop in the large sheet cake batter. Once baked and iced, it was fun to find a penney, nickel or dime in your piece of cake. Mom would call in any kids playing in proximity to our yard. With eight in the family across the street, as well as next door, we did not lack inpromptu guests. A rowsing Happy Birthday was sung. Cake was eaten.We all went back out to play.

    • says

      Marian, whatever family traditions are followed – money cake or some other celebration – are those we fondly remember. I love the story you write about being from a large family and having all the kids in the neighborhood come in for cake. Also, good idea to “do the math and make a note.” Thanks!

  9. says

    Oh how cool to find out. Thanks for spilling the beans! I have never heard about it before and we also do not celebrate “golden” birthdays in where I come from…Is this a typical American thing?

    • says

      I wish I knew where some of these traditions come from – not sure it is an American custom…if anyone knows, would love to find out!!

  10. says

    I saw your tweet today, and realized you might also have never heard of the Half Life Anniversary (because I made it up), but I consider it an extremely important occasion. I suggest reminding your husband about it, because it takes a while to absorb a new and important concept like this.

  11. says

    I clearly remember being out for dinner and a show (The Christmas Revels) with my daughter two weeks before her 11th birthday. My dear friend told us about “Golden Birthdays”, because hers is the 11th of January. I remember the cold night, the snow on the ground, and the wide eyes of my entranced child. I love this concept! Any reason for extra celebration is a good reason!

  12. says

    I did not know about golden birthdays…thanks for the education! Visiting from SITS.

  13. KG says

    I knew my golden birthday was When I turned 22. But no one really cared. I had a one year old daughter and was a single parent. But my daughter got hers when she was 4. Her birthday is the 4th and we had a large party for her.

    • says

      Wish I could turn back the clock and bring you roses when you turned 22. Its lovely that you celebrated your daughter’s GBD, probably one of her earliest and happiest memories which is quite a gift from a mother to a daughter.

  14. says

    I’ve never heard of a golden birthday. What a fun thing.

    You sure have some wonderful birthday memories. I think it’s wonderful that you’re helping your daughter create them as well.

    Happy Sharefest. Have a great weekend.

    • says

      Family traditions are a gift we can pass on. Sometimes the smallest things are what we most remember as kids, too. Thanks!

  15. Carlo/Carlo At Your Service Productions says

    That’s a cool tradition. But my experience is kind of like kg, who commented above. No one really cared when I turned 21, when I had my “golden birthday” years ago on a November 21st. I read posts like yours and try to relate to it, but it’s kind of tough. I mean, I think it’s great and all… so I sure don’t have any negative feelings or anything. It’s just that no one ever cared about me like that, so I when I read about it, it’s just something I can’t identify with.

    I’m happy for your daughter and your family though. Really. I think this kind of tradition is great!

    I stopped over from SITS. Blessings to you…

    • says

      Would never want to make you, kg or anyone feel bad….so sorry if I did. I was fortunate with my parents but know that many were not. I’m sorry.

  16. says

    I’m sure her golden birthday will be one your daughter always remembers. what a very sweet idea.

  17. says

    I was 9 on my golden birthday, and maybe I will be lucky enough to hit it again. I was born on 9-9 so it could come around again when I am 99 ! Maybe that’s platinum?

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  19. Carpool Goddess says

    What a lovely memory! Love the roses. I’ve never heard of the Golden Birthday, but now realize it passed a long time ago with my kids (both born on the 4th!).

  20. says

    So sweet, plus I learned a new phrase today! Every girl should receive roses like you did on the day they need them. What a wonderful world.

  21. says

    I was in single digits when I had my golden birthday, so it didn’t resonate with me as much. How delightful to receive those beautiful yellow roses.

    • says

      Karen, I was lucky to have had my golden birthday in my twenties, and our daughter at 16. The roses were memorable.

  22. says

    Beautiful! I learned the term just a few years ago. My daughter is 23 and her bday is on the 26th, so I’ve got time to plan something.

  23. Pat says

    I never heard of this term, but now that I reflect back my daughter’s golden birthday was extra special.

  24. says

    I never knew there was a term for that! What a beautiful tradition your dad started, and happy early Golden Birthday to your daughter!