Virtual Zoom parties, numerous food deliveries and well wishes through social media replaced physical celebrations.
Since social gatherings were not allowed since the start of the circuit breaker, those born in April and May (and maybe even June) had to do away with typical birthday celebrations, like birthday parties.
Although these youths couldn’t have people over for their birthday festivities, that doesn’t mean they had to skip celebrating their milestones altogether.
Four youths tell us how they spent their special day in the comfort of their own homes.
“I felt quite disappointed at first because I had already planned a small gathering with my friends for my birthday, which had to be cancelled for everyone’s safety.
“I wanted to have a party this year because I was on exchange overseas last year and didn’t get to have a 21st birthday bash like most do to celebrate their coming-of-age.
“But I really loved this year’s celebration! It was different, but it’s definitely not terrible or isolating. In fact, I somehow felt the least lonely on that day.
“My friends surprised me with food delivery when I was working from home and my boyfriend even ordered McDonald’s for my whole family. In the evening, my parents headed out to get a cake, candles and a special dinner.
“I could really feel the love of my friends and family who went through the trouble of finding ways to extend their well wishes to me on my birthday although we couldn’t meet each other. I felt that our relationships and friendships truly transcended the boundaries of physical space. I’m very grateful!” – Caris Chua, 22, Undergraduate
“My birthday coincidentally fell on the same day as Hari Raya (May 24). It was really nice for me because I hadn’t celebrated my birthday or Hari Raya with my family in recent years.
“I celebrated my birthday overseas for the last two years because I was studying abroad. My friends and I would always have a big feast in the backyard. Since my birthday is in spring, the weather would only just start to warm up and we’d always just chat and enjoy the sun.
“This year, my mum invited my family members as well as my boyfriend, who lives in Germany, to a Zoom meeting so we could catch up, wish each other Selamat Hari Raya and sing me a birthday song.
“It was kind of funny because that was the first time my boyfriend met some of my family members and celebrated Hari Raya, although his intention was just to be present for my birthday.
“I think Zoom cannot replace physical birthday celebrations because you miss out on smaller private conversations and eating the same foods so I am looking forward to seeing my family and friends in person again.” – Atiqah Khaliq, 24, Student
“This year, on top of a family dinner, I planned out an online birthday party for myself on Discord!
“I spent a few hours preparing some Google slides about my growth as a person, complete with adorable baby pictures and embarrassing pubescent ones, and a schedule for games I wanted my friends to play. I created a Kahoot! quiz to test how well my friends know me. The winner won a date with me for when we can see each other again.
“The most hilarious thing about receiving birthday presents this year was that most of it came in the form of intermittent Grabfood deliveries! Throughout the entire afternoon, there was a delivery approximately every hour, and my mother was annoyed with constantly having to open the door and gate to take them for me since the deliveries were contactless.
“People also sent me $1.80 or 18 cents because I turned 18, which was funny.
“One of my main love languages is receiving and giving presents, so my friends put in the extra effort for me on my birthday and it was so lovely of them to do so!” – Natasha Nicholas, 18, Student
“Since the whole family has been stuck at home during circuit breaker, we decided to throw a costume party for ourselves!
“We all dressed up as different movie and TV show characters and we also played some games. I share a birthday with my sister so we also had a Kahoot! quiz as well to test our family on their knowledge of us.
“Typically, my family would go to an expensive restaurant or buffet to celebrate our birthdays. This year, my mom made our favourite macaroni and cheese and bought my favourite fried chicken.
“I think this birthday is one for the books because I got to spend it surrounded by family and I treasure my family a lot.” – Caitlin Tan, 19, Student
While we still cannot gather in large groups, you can take inspiration from these four youths if you have an upcoming birthday.
Whether you throw an elaborate virtual party or have a Mukbang feast with your friends online, I hope you stay safe and celebrate responsibly!
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