Birthday messages cover a broad spectrum, varying according to gender, country, religion and the age of the birthday celebrant. Nonetheless, there are certain themes that are common birthday messages. Once you've identified and mastered these themes, you can improvise and coin an original birthday message.
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Wishes for Longevity
One common element in birthday messages is a statement expressing the hope that the birthday celebrant will enjoy a long life. On the Greek island of Symi, the typical birthday greeting is: “May you live to be 100 and more!” In the Jewish tradition, the standard birthday message is: “May you live to be 120 years old!” The Japanese emperor was greeted with the phrase: “May you live 10,000 years!”
Greetings for the Day
Another common element in birthday messages is a statement expressing the hope that the birthday celebrant enjoys a special day. The straight-talker will suffice with the words: “I hope you had a special day!” or “I hope you did something special on your birthday!” The sentimentalist will try to link the of the celebrant with the specialness of the day: “Have a happy celebration / One you’ll always recall, / And be aware on this day of days, / You’re the most special person of all!” (Karl Fuchs).
Expressions of Love
Another element that is common in many birthday messages is a statement of love. For the no-nonsense individual, there is the direct approach: “I want to take this opportunity to tell you how much you mean to me…” For the poetic soul, there is the indirect approach, often expressed in a classic poem: “What I do / And what I dream include thee, as the wine / Must taste of its own grapes” (Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnets from the Portuguese, VI).
Statements that Belittle or Deny the Passage of Time
Another common element in birthday messages—especially when the birthday celebrant is not a youngster—is a statement that belittles or denies the passage of time. Often this is done humorously or sarcastically. A classic example of age denial is Lucille Ball’s statement: “The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly and lie about your age.” An example of age denial that works well on a greeting card is: (On the cover) “I wouldn’t say that you’re old… (On the inside) “…you’ve just been young longer than most of us.”
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