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Several cupcakes decorated with cute spooky things for Halloween, including a skeleton, a cute spider, and a witch hat.

How to have a happy birthday

Take a page from The Satanic Bible

by AK Krajewska

In The Satanic Bible, Anton LaVey declares that one's own birthday is the highest holiday in the Satanic religion. As such, one should celebrate the crap out of it. The Satanic Bible is like a second-rate fusion cuisine dish combining Ayn Rand, Nietzsche, Crowley[1], and a big helping of homey self-help style all served in restaurant with a confused heavy-metal/goth aesthetic.[2] Which is to say, it's kind of funny and it's got some good ideas among all the weird shit. The bit about birthdays is particularly good:

The Satanist feels: “Why not really be honest and if you are going to create a god in your image, why not create that god as yourself.” Every man is a god if he chooses to recognize himself as one. So, the Satanist celebrates his own birthday as the most important holiday of the year. After all, aren't you happier about the fact that you were born than you are about the birth of someone you have never even met? Or for that matter, aside from religious holidays, why pay higher tribute to the birthday of a president or to a date in history than we do to the day we were brought into this greatest of all worlds?[4]

I dig the straight-up egoism. Maybe LaVey was influenced by Max Stirner, too. And I appreciate this passage's wonderful, life-affirming joy about life and existence, and specifically your own life. Too many people take their birthdays as an opportunity to ruminate on what they've failed to accomplish so far in life or on getting old. Even if you're old and a fuck-up though, simply being alive is wonderful. It's worth celebrating. Celebrating your birthday the Satanic way is celebrating the fact of your own existence, not any particular thing about yourself. Like the therapy chestnut goes, you're a human being, not a human doing.

Alright, so how does LaVey think you should celebrate this most important of Satanic holidays?

Despite the fact that some of us may not have been wanted, or at least were not particularly planned, we’re glad, even if no one else is, that we’re here! You should give yourself a pat on the back, buy yourself whatever you want, treat yourself like the king (or god) that you are, and generally celebrate your birthday with as much pomp and ceremony as possible.[5]

That just sounds like Treat Yo Self in Parks and Recreation[6] with a lot of extra words and not funny. Maybe he's better at principles than examples, or maybe he ran out of steam.

My birthday, my rules

I'm by no means a devout LaVeyan Satanist[7] but I do make a special point of celebrating my birthday, and I have developed some rules to avoid duds.

  1. Do whatever you want. It's your birthday.
  2. If you're not sure what you want, go outside and start walking.
  3. If you start doing something you wanted, and you don't like it anymore, stop and do something else.
  4. If you want other people to do something for your birthday, you have to tell them that you want it. If they don't want to do it, then deal with it. You can't make other people do stuff or depend on other people guessing what you want for your happiness.
  5. Wear something festive that pleases you.
  6. Go outside and have a little adventure. Or a big adventure. See art or nature.
  7. If you want a party, throw it yourself. The party can go however you want it.

Following these rules has worked out pretty well for me. When in doubt, remember rule 1.

And yes, today is my birthday. I'm going to do whatever I want and celebrate being alive.


Footnotes

[1] I'm not making this up. Check out the Wikipedia on The Satanic Bible.

[2] To be fair, goth[3] wasn't invented until the 80s and heavy-metal aesthetic probably owes more to LaVey than vice versa, so it probably wasn't confused at the time but it feels very confused now.

[3] Not to be confused with Gothic which was invented earlier, or Goths, which were invented in olden long-ago times, to paraphrase the scholar Philomena Cunk.

[4] LaVey, Anton, The Satanic Bible, 1969, page 106.

[5] ibid

[6] Parks and Recreation, Season 4, Episode 4 "Pawnee Rangers."

[7] That is definitionally not possible anyway. It would be like being a devout atheist.