Research on American children birthday celebrations

Dylan Hong
25 min readMay 25, 2021

American children birthday celebrations general overview of affect on child’s identity

Word Count: 4889

Abstract

The importance of this research is to understand the affect American Children Birthday Celebrations (ACBC) have on children. This work attempts to bring new knowledge about the effects of the common birthday celebration on the children of our American society. In a general approach, this study tries to grasp how ACBC affects children’s view on themselves and how they view the celebration. Some specific areas that this research addresses is the general opinion of themselves, the purpose of the birthday celebration, and what was meaningful to them from the celebration. The participants are American adults who grew up as a child in America. These adults reflected back on when they were children, these participants will be referred to as former children (FC). This study uses a qualitative research survey method with multiple choice and free response questions. The free response answers were then coded to find meaning behind these responses. Some main results from this study was that FC found the main importance of ACBC to be family. They found three major purposes of ACBC to be traditional influences (pressures and traditions mostly), celebration, and identity through milestones. Almost all FC found ACBC meaningful for affirming identity. Tradition was also found to be meaningful for FC for AROC. This research brings awareness to the effects ACBC has on children and to understand some messages that are perceived from ACBC. Past research has found the effects of ACBC on parents or others, but little research has been done on children. This research brings knowledge to how ACBC affects children and their through process.

Keywords: American Children Birthday Celebrations, Qualitative Research Survey, Identity, Tradition, Community

American children birthday celebrations general overview of affect on child’s identity

American children birthday celebrations. They are a common part of our society that we take for granted the uniqueness of. Nine in ten Americans believe it is important to celebrate birthdays (Simpson, 2015, p. 1). Americans state birthdays are the second favorite holiday to celebrate with 18% saying it is their favorite holiday (Simpson, 2015, p. 2). Such statistics point to the importance of ACBC. Because of its importance in society, the impacts of it will most likely be important to society as well. To better understand the impacts of something, one should look at the origin of it to understand what it is rooted in.

The first record of a birthday celebration was in the Bible. In Genesis, it is mentioned that the Pharaoh, the king of the Egyptians, had a feast with all of his officials (Moses, n.d.). This first celebration was for the extremely wealthy and the Pharaoh displayed his wealth and fortune through an extravagant feast. To even be invited to the feast, one had to be extremely wealthy (Moses, n.d.). It was mentioned as a time focused on the birthday person (Moses, n.d.). Birthday celebrations for children were first recorded in the 1500s in Germany which were called kinderfeste (Habereder, 1998). These celebrations included gifts, cakes, and candles representing age and one more for good luck (Rinkoff, 1967). At first, ACBC were celebrated by the wealthy and religious and were influenced by parents (“Birthdays”, 2020). The focus was less on the child and more about the social circles of family friends (“Birthdays”, 2020). Since then it has transitioned to many children in western society having celebrations and being more about the child themselves (“Birthdays”, 2020).

Literature Review

Conforming to society through Consumer Culture

A major impact of ACBC on society is conforming to the tradition of having these celebrations. Much research has been conducted on social conformity in parents. Social conformity is defined as culture, traditions, and decisions made by others, causing individuals to align with what is considered normal. The very nature of having an ACBC can be considered conforming to society by the culture, traditions and the fact that many other parents host such celebrations. A good explanation as Clarke describes birthday parties as being a “part of a broader gendered sociality in which networks of gifts and children are circulated in rounds of reciprocity” (Clarke, 2007, p. 266). In parent communities, there is a status quo of what a birthday party should be and what it should be like (Clarke, 2007). There is clearly a strong culture, tradition, and pressure to follow ACBC.

Besides the basic social conformity of having ACBC, a major part of social conformity is through consumer culture. Commercialization and what is projected as the norm for ACBC has led to an increase in expenses and birthdays in general (Lee, 2008). Many parents believe consumer culture has become associated with ACBC and more than 50% of parents critique the excessiveness of it (Schoonmaker, 2006, p. 220). As Schoonmaker finds, ACBC “encourage children to find this sense of community through the consumption of material things” (Schoonmaker, 2006, p. 232). Therefore many ACBC’s conform to consumerism and excessively spend on celebrations.

The discrepancy in ACBC based on income impacts and further exemplifies social conformity through consumer culture. From the very start of birthday celebrations there has been a discrepancy based on wealth. In the birthday celebration in the Bible, it was a celebration for the Pharaoh, and the feast he had was not for any normal person (Moses, n.d.).

Since then, society has perpetuated this leading to gifts, party favors, food, decorations, location, and size of parties being central parts of birthday celebrations. In America, ACBC is seen as an important responsibility of the parents (Lee, 2008). From the experience of low-income parents, “Making the birthday child feel happy and ‘normal’ was the core principle the mother had in mind” (Lee, 2008, p. 545). Because of this core principle, parents spent money on giving their children gifts even when they didn’t have the money at the moment (Lee, 2008). Furthermore, they compared the size and extravagance of their party to what they perceived as the normal and either achieved it through spending more money and time or made comments that their party was not sufficient (Lee, 2008). For low-income parents there is an assumption that wealth is the main factor to give children an ideal ACBC (Lee, 2008).

Identity

Another factor that ACBC affects is the identity of the child. Four main attitudes parents have about ACBC is it is fun because children enjoy it, good time for family, opportunity to bond with friends, and concern of consumer culture (Schoonmaker, 2006). Three of these main attitudes are about ACBC affecting the child’s identity through the community or their unique personality. The last attitude is about social conformity through consumer culture. As Schoonmaker finds, “Children’s birthday celebrations are multi-faceted cultural events involving a range of structures of feeling; events where meanings and values about family, love, childhood and friendship are ‘actively lived and felt’” (Schoonmaker, 2006, p. 228). It is the most commonly observed family ritual (Schoonmaker, 2006). These celebrations have also been found to bring extended family together (Lee, 2008).

The most common attitude of the four mentioned was ACBC are fun because their child was enjoying it. 18 of 29 parents stated this (Schoonmaker, 2006, p. 225). The focus on child’s fun, points to a different aspect of identity about what is unique about the child and what makes them who they are because every child has different things they consider fun.

Another aspect of how ACBC affects a child’s identity is through the idea of rituals and transitions. In life, transitions happen when people change in some way. These transitions are usually followed by rituals that help the person transition better. Children are growing up and constantly changing. In America, there is no concrete ritual to help children transition (Klein, 1981). For example, in Jewish culture a Bar/Bat mitzvah is a coming of age ritual, but this does not exist in American culture. However, the ritual for these children could be ACBC (Klein, 1981). Usually these rituals are a one time event. However, Klein states that a ritual that happens annually, might be able to help the child transition slowly (Klein, 1981).

Much of the previous literature review focused on the response and effect of ACBC on parents. However, another perspective these celebrations have on society is the effect on the children. It is found that the older the child is the deeper the understanding of birthday celebrations is (Klavir, 2002). For example, young children believe that birthday celebrations cause aging up, while older children understand social and cultural aspects of birthday celebrations and that aging occurs without a birthday celebration (Klavir, 2002). These findings point to the importance of children’s birthday celebrations to the young child as they center aging around the birthday celebration.

Gap

Current research shows the major effects the culture of ACBC has on society. These two main effects found are the identity of those involved in the celebration and conformation to society. Much analysis has been done on conformity involving parents (Clarke, 2007). Studies have been done on the importance of a child’s identity for the significance and reasoning behind the celebration (Schoonmaker, 2006). Some of the only research done is about the relationship between age of birthday child and birthday celebrations (Klavir, 2002). Little research has been done to see how childrens’ perceptions are affected by ACBC, while there has been research on the effects on parents and what they think. One major effect that parents believe is that it is important for the identity of the child, yet no research has been done to see if the children believe it is important to their identity and to see if it affects their identity. Which leads to the question: To what degree does American childhood birthday celebrations affect the identity of children who grew up in the United States?

Methods

Procedure

Participants were found through Nextdoor and Facebook. Places posted were neighborhoods in the Bay Area that the researcher had access to. To gain more responses, facebook accounts were used to post as well. The post (Appendix A) included an overview of the study, what participating in the study means, and a consent form (Appendix B). In this survey I asked questions to gauge how birthdays influenced what they thought of themselves and questions about their ACBC (Appendix C). A necessary part was a debrief where participants could receive more information if participants felt it was necessary for their personal needs. Because of this, contact information was obtained at the end of the survey to receive a debrief. However to keep the anonymity of participants, the contact information was only known by the researcher and no one else saw it. For the open ended questions, I coded responses looking for key words and phrases that were common. I used the method of inductive coding, where one finds tags from the raw responses, then looks at tags to create categories, and then looks at the categories to create themes. For multiple choice, I analyzed using graphs to show the percentage of people who responded a certain way.

Ethics

Participants of the study had given consent for data to be used for research purposes (Appendix B). Also the participants of this study were kept anonymous. Even though there was contact information for participants who asked for debrief, contact information was not shared with others and was kept confidential (with the exception of the teacher of research class).

Justification

The method used was a survey because data just needed to be collected on the effect and did not need longitudinal data. Using a survey also allowed for more participants than if done by interview, meaning that the sample size would be larger and less biased by individual responses. Due to ethics, it makes the most sense to do a survey because it does not require extensive consent and is least harmful or intrusive.

Most of the questions were multiple choice or a scale question and two were free response. Many questions were not free responses and were selected to be this way because they were less important questions and could easily gain the information through listing choices for participants. These questions could be exhausted of the possibility easily. These questions always had an “other” choice or some way to account for different responses depending on the scenario. However, questions 3 and 4 (Appendix C) were free response questions because they were the most important questions to understanding the effect of identity on the child and did not want to limit the participants by giving them choices.

Adults were surveyed rather than children because the concept of identity will be hard and inaccurate to measure from a child’s response. This aligns with the research question because responses from FC will show the effect and impact it had on them as a child by what they remember and can say about their ACBC. Though this is retrospective data, Schoonmaker (2006) who conducted comprehensive research on ACBC performed her study through retrospective data as well. Since this research is measuring the effect of ACBC on the child, not what their ACBC was actually like. What the child remembers as an adult will reflect the effect it had on them as a child. For example, if their memory is inaccurate about how their ACBC went, then that is how it affected them. This study is not trying to understand what the actuality of their birthdays were, but understanding how the child processed, remembered, and self-reports its effects.

For the purpose of this study, childhood was defined as five to ten years old. As Harvard (2005) finds when a child hits puberty there is a distinct physical, mental, and emotional change. As puberty starts at age 10, this study defines childhood as ending at ten years old (National Institute of Health, 2021).

Participants were found through social media because for the researcher it was the best way to get a more random sample beyond just friends or the local community. Survey was posted on Nextdoor and Facebook more than other common social media sites, it can be distributed beyond just people one knows.

Limitations

A limitation of this study is the small sample size for the large population that is being measured. First, there is very little incentive to participate in the study. Other studies will offer incentives such as money or prizes, however, I did not do this in this study. Because of this, it was not easy to find participants. However, using the method of a survey that takes 10 minutes maximum, people will be more willing to fill it out since it is simple and quick. Secondly, with only a year to conduct this study, the number of participants is decently limiting for the scope of the topic.

Another limitation is because it is a self-reflective survey, participants may not accurately represent the true response and effect of ACBC based on factors such as how they are feeling the day of the survey. Through any method that data is collected, this problem would exist. The best way to eliminate this problem is to widen the sample size.

Furthermore, some limitations of the research is how participants were obtained. Because Nextdoor and Facebook were used to obtain participants, there is some inherent bias in only using these sites. To participate in this study, participants must have a Nextdoor or Facebook account and be in those neighborhoods or communities that survey was posted on.

Lack of access and expertise further limited the study. Even though data from children would be beneficial and more accurate if done correctly, a current high school student like the researcher doesn’t have access to reach the children and expertise to analyze the data of children. One reason for why adults will be studied.

More limitations are from ways in which the results of the data could be skewed. When comparing those who grew up in California versus those who grew up outside of California, there was a major difference in age categories found. Due to this factor, the difference between the two may not be due to where they grew up but more with the time period in which they grew up and stage of life they are in now. Due to this, further research should be conducted to further understand differences and similarities between those who grew up in California and those who grew up outside of California. Also, there were significantly more responses from those who grew up in California vs. Non-California USA (about double the amount).

Results

I received a total of 105 responses to the survey. However, due to some not answering certain key questions, such as giving consent and stating they grew up in the United States, I could not use some of the data. I had a total of 98 responses that gave consent and grew up in the United States. 67 of these responses were from people who grew up in California and 31 of these responses were from people who grew up outside of California but in the United States.

Figure 1. On survey, participants were given these choices as seen with “other” being a fill in the blank for question 2 (Appendix C).

Figure 2. On survey, participants were given these choices (Loved — I am loved; Gifts: Love — Gifts are a sign of love; Size of Gifts — The bigger the gift, the more your parents loved you; Parties Important — Parties are important; Community — Community is important; Alone — I am alone even with lots of people) for question 5 (Appendix C).

Figure 3. This represents survey question 6 (Appendix C). On the survey, participants were given these seven choices and asked to rank the importance from 1 (most important) to 7 (least important).

Figure 4. This represents survey question 6 (Appendix C). On the survey, participants were given these seven choices and asked to rank the importance from 1 (most important) to 7 (least important).

For the free response questions, inductive coding was used to analyze the qualitative data and find the meaning behind responses. All applicable data was coded together. Meaning all people who gave consent, lived and celebrated a birthday in the US. Inductive coding this way because I didn’t want to inherently assume there were differences between responses from California and non-Californian US responses. The two free response questions that I used the inductive coding method to analyze were questions 3 and 4 (Appendix C).

For question 3 (Appendix C) there were a total of 84 responses. After coding, the three themes that showed up were affirming identity, tradition, and negative experience. 80 out of the 84 responses identified affirming identity as a response to this. 28 out of 84 responses identified tradition as a response to this. 8 out of 84 responses were identified as having negative experiences as a response.

There were a total of 56 responses from those who grew up in California. For these responses, 54 out of the 56 responses identified affirming identity as a response to this question. 16 out of the 56 identified tradition as a response to this question. Five out of the 56 identified negative experiences as a response to this question.

There were a total of 28 responses from those who grew up in the US outside of California. For these responses, 27 out of the 28 identified affirming identity as a response to this question. 12 out of the 28 identified tradition as a response to this question. Three out of the 28 identified negative experiences as a response to this question.

For question 4 (Appendix C) there were a total of 86 responses. However due to a mistyped response that could have many different meanings, I chose to not code and include that response in the results. After coding, the four themes that showed up were celebration, identity through milestones, traditional influences, and negative thoughts. 78 of the 85 responses answered celebration as a response to the question. 33 of the 85 responses answered identity through milestones as a response to the question. 20 of the 85 responses answered traditional influences as a response to this question. Traditional influences means traditions that influence us and influences that have become a tradition. An example is presents are a longstanding tradition on someone’s birthday. Since it is a longstanding tradition it influences us to do it. Eight of the 85 responses answered negative thoughts as a response to this question.

There were a total of 57 responses from those who grew up in California. For these responses, 53 out of 57 answered celebration as a response to this question. 21 out of 57 answered identity through milestones as a response to this question. 10 out of the 57 answered traditional influences as a response to this question. 6 out of the 57 answered negative experiences as a response to this question.

There were a total of 28 responses from those who grew up in the US outside of California. For these responses, 24 out of the 28 answered celebration as a response to this question. 12 out of the 28 answered identity through milestones as a response to this question. 10 out of the 28 answered traditional influences as a response to this question. 2 out of the 28 answered negative experiences as a response to this question.

Though these are the themes, the categories have valuable data and coding that could be very useful for discussion and conclusions.

CA

Not CA

Festive

40/57

24/28

Primary Focus

16/57

9/28

Community

30/57

6/28

Milestone

10/57

6/28

Exterior Influences

5/57

4/28

Traditional

6/57

6/28

Negative Thoughts

6/57

2/28

Table 1. Coding was done for question 4 on survey and these are the categories that were coded (Appendix C).

Discussion

In response to the question 4 (Appendix C), there was a decently large proportion of responses (20 out of 86, 23.3%) that answered traditional influences as a purpose. Codes such as traditions, religion, expectations, and parents goals fell under the theme of traditional influences. Tradition had shown up as a major factor in the purpose of the party and what was meaningful about the party. 32.9% of responses had a theme of tradition for question 3 (Appendix C). The tradition of what was thought of as normal in an ACBC is what was found meaningful and the purpose of the celebration. Such things as blowing out candles, opening presents, and cake, were underneath the themes in the coding and what is assumed as a normal ACBC. This relates to the research question, as ACBC seems to show FC that traditions and following norms are a meaningful part of life. This can be seen as an influence to their identity. Implications of this is that ACBC can influence children to follow norms and traditions more. Past studies have found the expectations socially and traditionally of ACBC an influencing factor for the mothers’ of the child (Lee, 2008; Jenning, 2014; Clarke, 2007). Jenning’s study found a key motivator for parents is appearances in front of others and showing that they know their child (Jenning, 2014). However, she found this drive pushed mothers to a do-it-yourself party and social norm (Jenning, 2014). She found that, “do-it-yourself understates the need to consume the constituent elements of the celebration,” (Jenning, 2014, p. 90). Opposite of what Jenning’s research found, Lee found that parents want to spend money not time on parties and see this as a way of showing love and care for their children (Lee, 2008). From FC, neither of these were a key topic described by the children in this study. This difference could be researched further to understand children’s perceptions of parents focusing on do-it-yourself parties versus focus on spending money. Other research found that a part of mothering culture was in ACBC and expectations for parties (Clarke, 2007; Lee, 2008). These influences affect ACBC by the party given and the way birthdays are handled (Clarke, 2007; Jenning, 2014; Lee, 2008). This is very similar as to what was found in this study. Except that instead of analyzing the actual parties and parents’ perspective on how expectations have influenced ACBC, it is from the perspective of FC. Both studies found the pressure and expectations an overwhelming response from the mothers of the children, however that was not the case in this study. Though children recognize these expectations and find it as a driving reason for the party (23.5% found traditional influences a theme), further research is needed to understand the extent that this pressure is experienced by children. Implications of this finding is that ACBC could convince children to take actions because of outside influences.

Lee’s study focused on low-income families, finding that there was a major sense of inadequacy in ability to offer what was deemed as the normal ACBC (Lee, 2008). The results found in this study had some negative experiences due to money, ability to offer and feeling of inadequacy. In question 3 (Appendix C) 9.5% related some negative experience as what they remembered of the birthday party. In question 4 (Appendix C) 9.4% related some negative thoughts on the purpose of their celebration. This finding shows that ACBC caused FC to have more negative thoughts about themselves and where they are in some cases. Through this, it affects their identity to think more negatively about themselves. Though it was not an overwhelming percentage of negative thoughts/feelings, it is enough responses to address and point out that there were some negative feelings. Implications of this is ACBC can cause children to think more negatively about themselves. To mitigate this, parents could be careful about how they handle ACBC. Though there were not nearly as many negative feelings/thoughts as found in Lee’s study (2008). This could be due to the difference between peer and cultural influence on a FC versus a parent.

Through both questions 3 and 4 (Appendix C), themes and categories were found from the coding about community, both family and friends. This topic in and of itself was found to be a primary purpose for ACBC and what was most meaningful about the ACBC for FC. Through coding for question 3 (Appendix C) 56% identified community as a category to their answer. Coding question 4 (Appendix C) 91.8% identified celebration as a theme to their answer. The theme celebration covered things such as eating food with others, activities with others, friends and family, and celebrating with others. A major outcome of ACBC seems to be that FC find the community of people important to the celebration. Such findings show that their identity could be influenced by ACBC to see the importance of being part of communities. Implications of this finding is that children may want to build stronger communities and see the importance of it in life. This finding shows how ACBC can be beneficial to society. These findings are similar to parents’ perspectives on ACBC (Schoonmaker, 2006). Similarly, community was found to be of major importance to ACBC of other countries (Weil, 1986). Stated as “larger process whereby kindergarten children are socialised into societal norms on a group basis”, Weil found a central part of ACBC to be about the building and being a part of that community (Weil, 1986, p. 329).

Some other main themes and categories found through coding were affirming/building identity and having fun. For question 3 (Appendix C), having fun was part of the category of positive experience and affirming identity was one of the themes. For question 4 (Appendix C), having fun was a part of the theme of celebration, and identity is in the theme of identity through milestones. These two main outcomes show that ACBC taught or showed FC that doing what one loves and being themselves was extremely important. Therefore, it might have affected their identity to be more about being unique. Implications of this are ACBC teaches children to be unique and be themselves. Another way in which ACBC can be beneficial to society. Past studies have found an important part of ACBC to be about identity, though not from a typical child’s perspective (Leong, 2018; Schoonmaker, 2006). In the scenario of homeless families, Leong (2018) found celebration of ACBC as a way to uplift and make the child and family feel special. By ACBC offering a way for them to feel uplifted, one can infer they felt special because their child and them are being recognized for a normal cultural event. The findings align with Leong’s that it uplifts the child but found that it goes beyond just homeless families. Along with community importance mentioned before, findings aligns with Schoonmaker’s findings as she found four main attitudes about their children’s ACBC. Three of these being about children having fun, family time and time to build friendships (Schoonmaker, 2006). Identity could be seen through Schoonmaker’s explanation of parents’ ideas of having fun. These major ideas of having fun, community (family and friends), and identity showed up on the opposite side, the children’s perspective, through coding.

In question 4 (Appendix C), one recurring theme was identity through milestones (38.8%). More specifically a significant percentage of responses answered with a response talking about milestones (18.8%). These responses were similar in that they talked about the importance of growing up or another year of life having passed. Furthermore, in figures 3 and 4, aging up was the third most chosen as the most important behind family and friends. FC found ACBC an important time to celebrate growing up. This probably influences how they perceive themselves and reinforced thinking of themselves in terms of their age. Implications of this finding is that ACBC can help children transition through life. This can also be beneficial to society. This adds to findings that ACBC is a ritual to help children go through a passage of life (Klein, 1981; Weil, 1986). ACBC has been found as a way to help children recognize the change in their identity (Klein, 1981). Adding onto this in question 4 (Appendix C), FC finds that a major purpose in ACBC is that it is an important milestone that helps support their identity. Furthermore, it was found that FC found that what was most meaningful about the celebrations was being affirmed in their identity. However, this emphasis on milestones and growing up was not found to be as important when looking at the coding from question 3 (Appendix C). Not enough responses seemed to talk about it to even be a theme for question 3 (Appendix C). Due to the difference in importance from question 3 to question 4 (Appendix C), further research should be done to see how important and recognized the milestones and aging up has for children during ACBC.

Conclusion

The purpose of this study was to explore the effect of ACBC on the children’s identity. The research question set out to answer was how do adults perceive the impact that ACBC had on their identity as a child. To explore this topic, a qualitative survey study was performed.

The most important links to literature are some similarities between mostly parent’s opinions on the celebration and FC’s opinion. Through coding responses, many FC found ACBC meaningful because of traditions and many FC found the purpose of ACBC to be due to traditional influences. Similar to this, a driving force behind ACBC for parents was societal pressures (Clarke, 2007; Lee, 2008). Klein’s (1981) hypothesis that ACBC can be a ritual to help with life transitions for children was also supported (38.8% of respondents’ found identity through milestones to be a purpose of ACBC). Community, identity and having fun were all identified through coding as common purposes of the party and what was meaningful about it. It has been found in a past study, that parents’ general thoughts on ACBC is that it is time for community and about the child having fun by tailoring to their specific interests (Schoonmaker, 2006).

Though this research has uncovered some interesting knowledge about the association that ACBC has on the child’s identity, there were many limitations in this study. Since this is a self-survey, participants will answer about what they thought the effect was not what is the effect. Further research should be done in other forms to further explore the effect ACBC has on the child. Furthermore, when comparing those who grew up in California versus those who grew up outside of California, there was a major difference in age categories found. Due to this factor, the difference between the two may not be due to where they grew up but more with the time period in which they grew up and stage of life they are in now. Due to this, further research should be conducted to further understand differences and similarities between those who grew up in California and those who grew up outside of California. Another limitation is the ability to access participants. In this method, participants were reached through the online sites, Next Door and Facebook. However, there is inherent bias in only using certain sites and further research should explore different sites and modes of finding participants. Another limitation was the fact that adults were studied due to limitations such as expertise and access of the research. A future direction is for a researcher with the expertise and access to do research on data from children age five to ten.

References

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Encyclopedia.com. (2020). Birthdays. Encyclopedia of Recreation and Leisure in America. Retrieved August 14, 2020, from https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/birthdays

Habereder, W., & Engelhard, C. (1998). Das Memminger Kinderfest. Geschichte und Tradition. Memmingen: Stadtarchiv Memmingen.

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Jennings, L., & Brace-Govan, J. (2014). Maternal visibility at the commodity frontier: Weaving love into birthday party consumption. Journal of Consumer Culture, 14(1), 88–112. https://doi.org/10.1177/1469540513488401

Klavir, R. & Leiser, D., (2002). When Astronomy, Biology, and Culture Converge: Children’s Conceptions about Birthdays. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 163(2) pp. 239–253. Retrieved August 15, 2020, from http://www.bgu.ac.il/~dleiser/docs/birthday.pdf

Klein, J., (1981). Birthday Parties: A Study of Developmental Change in American Culture. pp. 17–27. Retrieved August 15, 2020, from https://anthrosource.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1525/cia.1981.3.1.17

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Schoonmaker, S., (2006). Piece of Cake: Children’s Birthday Celebrations and Alternatives to Consumer Culture. Sociological Focus, 39(3), pp. 217–234. Retrieved August 15, 2020, from http://www.jstor.com/stable/20832299

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Appendix A

Post Description

Hi, I am a [grade level] at [High School of researcher]. I am doing a research project for my AP Research Class. I am collecting data through responses to a survey below. My research focuses on childhood birthday celebrations and its effect on the identity of children. The survey should take no more than 10 minutes. Thank you so much for your time. [survey linked below]

Appendix B

Consent Form

Understand that those who choose to participate are not required in any way to answer all questions in the survey for the study. Participants can choose to not answer questions if they don’t want to answer it. Your responses will be kept anonymous.

In this study, I will collect data on childhood birthday celebrations. Childhood refers to ages ten and under for the purposes of this study. If you are to participate in this study, it will consist of a survey which I will ask about your childhood birthday celebrations. I will ask to reflect on your childhood birthday celebrations and different aspects of it. Please know that your responses should be based on your experience and recollection of your childhood.

Some possible harm to participants could be remembering traumatic, sad, or bad experiences as a child related to birthday celebrations.

If you have any questions about the survey or anything about the study than please email [school email address]

I give consent to use my responses anonymously for the purpose of only this study (consent information below) [Yes or No choices]

Appendix C

Survey Questions

  1. At any time between the ages of 5–10 years old, I celebrated my birthday while living in (check all that apply) [United States of America; California; Bay Area; (City of researcher)]
  2. After my childhood birthday celebration I generally felt (check all that apply) [happy; loved; confident confused; pressure to live up to expectations; sad; overwhelmed; special; other (with fill in blank)]
  3. What was most meaningful about your birthday celebration for you? [fill in the blank]
  4. When you think back to your childhood birthday parties, what was the purpose of the party? [fill in the blank]
  5. What did the birthday celebrations communicate to you? [I am loved; Gifts are a sign of love; The bigger the gift, the more your parents loved you; Parties are important; Community is important; I am alone even with lots of people]
  6. What was the focus of your birthday celebrations? (1 being most important, 7 being least important) [Aging up; Presents; Food; Friends; Family; Celebrating past year; Setting Goals and Expectations for the Next Year]
  7. How old are you? (select one) [18–30 years old; 31–40 years old; 41–50 years old; 51–65 years old; 66+ years old]

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