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Half Birthdays Are Coming of Age: Celebrations Optional

Of all the holidays, anniversaries and occasions we celebrate (or are obligated to celebrate), there's one milestone gaining in popularity partly because it doesn't impose itself on us. Unless of course we want it to. It's the Half Birthday. An event we can pull out of our pocket whenever needed for any number of reasons, or totally ignore if we see fit with no one being the Half
                    Birthday Cake Left Sidewiser. It's the occasion of convenience. The discretionary semi-anniversary that's a win-win for those who choose to honor it and those happily on the receiving end.

Half birthdays originally grew out of a need to accommodate two groups: the first, infants and toddlers for whom a year is too long to wait to acknowledge progress in their young lives; and second, those whose birthdays occur at inconvenient times of the year: during the holiday season when they're all but forgotten; in the summertime, depriving school children of the inevitable classroom party; or at the height of winter when severe weather can put a damper on those who have always yearned for an outdoor bash. In each of these circumstances, celebrating the half birthday is the perfect alternative, a Plan B that in some cases even becomes the permanent day of observance over the actual day of birth.

Now people are finding all sorts of additional reasons (excuses?) to break out the bubbly at the six-month mark. Some may balk that it's just another day to have to remember, plan, buy gifts for, and make a fuss over. But proponents counter that celebrating a half birthday is entirely optional, that it doesn't have to be a yearly event, and that no one, if they even know when their half birthday is, is expecting anything anyway.

And that brings up the element of surprise. While it's becoming ever more difficult to surprise someone on their actual birthday (don't we all at least consider the possibility and look for telltale signs?), half b-days are another story. Most will be totally caught off base and especially appreciative if you spring a gift or party on them, no matter how modest. Which makes it a novel and thoughtful way to show your appreciation to a coworker, friends, lover, or relative.

Half birthdays have also become a way for parents who are separated or divorced to do something special with their kids if they don't get to see them on their regular birthdays. And while some adults would rather forget they're having yet another birthday, much less a half birthday, kids are of a different nature. How proudly they tack on that half-year when asked their age, asserting that they're five and a half, eight and a half, or twelve and a half. So why not recognize it?

Half birthdays have a place in romance, too. Someone vying for another's heart can gain a decided competitive edge by making a little ado on his or her "half b." And what better way to delight one's better half (especially after a tiff) than with a present on their half birthday?

All of this has not gone unnoticed by entrepreneurs seeking to serve the half birthday market. The recently launched website is an online emporium of gifts, novelties and party ideas specially befitting the half birthday theme, for celebrants of all ages. Among the Items for sale are a half-dozen red roses, a JFK Half Dollar watch, half caff coffee, semi-sweet chocolate chip cookies, even women's "shorty" pajamas. You get the idea.

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