November has come. Riding off the coattails of Halloween comes Thanksgiving. As a Satanist, my birthday is my most important holiday. Thanksgiving is a fun one. Of course, all the food is great, but for me the best part is making my own contribution to the feast and hanging out with my closest friends. However, I am still a Satanist, and while I’m all for giving credit where credit is due, Thanksgiving has a lot of Christian undertones, in that many families – my own included – give their thanks to God, rather than celebrating their privileges and fortunes. My own family insists on praying before the meal rather than finding a new tradition that accommodates everyone’s religious preferences, and that somewhat sobers the occasion. However, my most important holiday as a Satanist still lies waiting in November, and that is my birthday.
Most people use their birthday as an opportunity to spoil themselves. Perfectly reasonable, in my opinion. Keeping one’s loved ones alive for a full year is hard enough, and keeping oneself alive as well is more difficult than it may seem.
And while pampering oneself – buying oneself gifts, getting made over, eating decadent food, etc. – is an essential aspect of celebrating the self, dedicating the day solely to enjoying oneself strikes as a bit shallow. For a Satanist, the birthday is a celebration of the whole self, not just the things we enjoy. That includes celebrating our achievements, the good things we’ve done for others, and our flaws; everything about ourselves, our light and our shadow.
For me, my birthday is a time for celebration, and it is also a time for reflection. It’s an opportunity to go over my achievements, to mourn my losses, and to evaluate the person I’ve become. What aspects of myself am I satisfied with, and where do I need to make a change? Like many others, it is sometimes hard to look at myself so honestly.
Which is why it is important to me to surround myself with loved ones on my birthday. Within my own friend group, we practice something called “birth week.” Instead of celebrating our birthdays only the day of, we take a whole seven days to celebrate. It starts three days before your birthday, and ends three days after your birthday. That may seem excessive, but I’m a Satanist. I do like my indulgences, and I especially like opportunities to spend time with friends.
Especially during the pandemic, it’s nice to have an opportunity to get together with the people who love you and visit a favorite restaurant. Gifts from other people are also wonderful, but something I tried to start last year and couldn’t to the extent that I wanted to thanks to Covid, is to hand out gifts to my friends and family. I don’t just mean candy and party favors – I’m talking about actual, well-thought-out gifts. Last year it was just my fiancé and me; I bought him his first set of dice, since just before the pandemic he was starting to get involved with the D&D group I’m a part of. I don’t yet know how large a birthday celebration I’ll have this year, but I hope to have three more people join me and my fiancé.