Opinion: Feliz Cumpleaños


While the staff circling around and placing an improbably large and considerably over-adorned sombrero upon our brow is probably a more recent development, the singing of festive greetings at restaurants, at least of the variety in or from the nation of Mexico, is a well-established tradition. 

Composed by Alfonoso Esparza Oteo, “Las Mañanitas” was used to gently wake someone on a special day. Likely evolving from the earlier Spanish tune “Estas Son las Mañanitas” and becoming popular in the early 20th century, it represents the happiness that these times bring to all of us and to celebrate the ones achieving the milestone.

Some of us relish the moment when all eyes are upon us. Others do not. It is deep in our nature that we might take pride or find embarrassment in the very same act. The challenge is in empathizing enough with our fellow humans to read what they might prefer rather than nudging them into what we like. Sure, there are a few of us who delight in doing the exact opposite of what those around us are likely to seek, embarrassing those we love. We tease and provoke – even making them sing for their own birthday supper. But most of us only seek to enhance the joy of those endeared to us. 

From the earliest days, we come to understand the power of these choices. Our sister might be green with envy because we received the “special” birthday plate, and she did not. It was not her day, yet it annoyed her that eyes were on us. Contrarily, it was her sole mission in life to draw attention to the very same plate when it was positioned in front of her. If we’re not kids anymore, do we know if we bring honor or envy it?