Okay, so maybe you share a birthday with Michelle Obama or Ryan Reynolds. Big deal. People born on December 25 are birthday buds with none other than the King of Kings, and it's kind of hard to top that. But there are other advantages to having that particular birthday, as many of the old wives' tales about Christmas babies illustrate.
There are tons of superstitions about Christmas itself that have been around for centuries: when to put up the tree; what kind of holly to keep in the house; what gifts never to give; and, in Britain, when to start making the traditional pudding, according to Folklore Thursday. So it stands to reason that there should also be myths and beliefs about the children born on this important date.
For the most part, it's agreed that a December 25 birthday is a pretty good omen, which could be expected of anyone born on a day associated with joy and feasting. But interestingly, folklore from other cultures and generations tell quite a different story. Back in the day, an expectant mom might even hope to delay her delivery until after Christmas, just to avoid disaster for her baby. And even today, a child might be a little bummed at having their special day overshadowed by a bigger event. (Anyone who was ever told, "Oh, this is both a Christmas and birthday gift" can attest to that.)
What other lore surrounds Christmas babies? Read on for the fascinating story.
Old Wives' Tale #1: They're Super Lucky
You could say that a Christmas child is truly born under a lucky star. As a poem from 1525 put it, children born on Christmas were pretty much guaranteed a successful life, according to Psychics.com. And if your December 25 baby is born on a Sunday, all the better: "a grete lorde he shalle be." In 1878, popular superstition had it that Noel babies could never be drowned or hanged. Then around 1957, things got simplified, and everyone agreed that being born on Christmas would generally be blessed with good luck. (So if you have a Christmas-born relative or friend, have them play your next lottery ticket for you.)
Old Wives' Tale #2: They're Wiser Than Others
If your Christmas baby is born on a Thursday, better save up that college tuition now. According to that same poem, not only will a Thursday Christmas child do good deeds, they'll also be "of speche and tonge wyse and reasonabylle."
Old Wives' Tale #3: They're Really UNlucky
Oh, one more thing about that poem... seems not all Christmas babies were fated to be fortunate. According to the verse, while all the Sunday-through-Friday babies are blessed with wisdom and strength, "Yf Christmas on the Saterday falle... children that e borne that day, Within halfe a yere they shall dye, par fay." Yikes. It was once believed that Christmas-born folks were more likely to see ghosts and spirits, too. As if that weren't confusing enough, the Mrs. Daffodil Digresses blog explained that, back in 1921, it was thought that Christmas-born boys would be lucky, while Christmas girls were known as "the sorrow child[ren]."
Old Wives' Tale #4: They May Turn Into Goblins
Having a Christmas birthday in Greece isn't what you'd call a happy event. As the German newspaper Spiegel explained, Greek legend has it that nasty goblins called Kallikantzaroi appear at night between December 25 and the January 6 Epiphany. During that time, they run riot, smash belongings, and generally scare the eggnog out of everyone. Furthermore, Greeks believe that when a baby is born on Christmas, it will turn into a Kallikantzaroi for trying to take all the attention away from Christ. To avoid that unhappy fate, moms can tie garlic onto their newborns. It may make for some rather stinky cuddle sessions, but better that than having your kid become a red-eyed, worm-eating hellbeast.
Old Wives' Tale #5: They Can Talk To Animals
Your Christmas child could be a real-life Dog Whisperer. Or Cat Whisperer, Goat Whisperer, or Lemur Whisperer. The Chest of Books website says that folklore from the Kentucky mountains has it that babies born on Christmas can "understand the speech of animals."
Old Wives Tale #6: Their Career Paths Are Set
Mrs. Daffodil Digresses added that a number of old wives' tales about Christmas-born babies are related to the jobs they were destined to have. In early 20th-century England, superstition had it that parents of boys born on December 25 should push them to enter the clergy, and girls born that day should become nurses. And in 1890s Silesia, now part of the Czech Republic, it was believed that a Christmas-born boy "must be brought up a lawyer or he shall become a thief." I'm guessing that there were lots of Silesian lawyers celebrating Christmas birthdays back then.
Whether or not you believe any of these old wives' tales, there's one undeniable fact: Having a healthy December 25 baby is always a happy gift. (But you might want to keep the garlic handy, just in case.)
After experiencing a traumatic c-section, this mother sought out a doula to support her through her second child’s delivery. Watch as that doula helps this mom reclaim the birth she felt robbed of with her first child, in Episode Three of Romper's Doula Diaries, Season Two, below. Visit Bustle Digital Group's YouTube page for more episodes, launching Mondays in December.