Normal for Many, Unusual for the Norm

I thought this would be a good time as any to share a wonderfully confusing story as to why I have two birthdays.

After having recently celebrated my real birthday- ie. not the one listed on my passport, many of you may also know that I have another one coming up in a month. It's been a running theme of my existence since arriving in Australia in 1980.

I won't go into a lengthy refugee story but here's the gist of how it came to be. At the end of the Vietnam War, many southern Vietnamese fled the country in fear of the Communist regime's repercussions. My parents were among those who sold everything they had and boarded a fishing boat bound for Malaysia. We were unfortunately pirated and thrown off our vessel. The fishing boat sunk, along with all official papers we had, among them, our birth certificates.

Background note: Culturally, Asians don't give birthdays much significance. Most Chinese - Asians register the Gregorian dates as the official dates for births but will also tell you the Lunar dates of when they were born. It's awfully confusing sometimes. What is significant, however, is the year in which you were born as the Chinese zodiac supercedes many beliefs. Therefore many Asians can easily tell you which animal sign they are instead of their birthdate. I grew up being recognised as a dragon... born 1976.

Back to the story: Given Vietnam's realities at the time, my grandparents never found it important for their children to be comprehensively educated. Upon immigrating to Australia, my parents realised that a good education was key to their children's future. In doing so, they went slightly over the top; while registering us for residency, my parents 'cheated' and made all of us older. This effectively made sure that we could start school a year early.

As you can imagine, this whole deceptive plan made most of us siblings want to find our real birthdays. As luck had it, the hopsital that we were born had meanhwile burned down, so their archives were no longer available. In my case, however, thanks to my maternal grandmother, she had one single photo of me as a baby. On the back of it she had recorded that I was born on December 4, 1976 and discharged from hospital two days later.

Top and left: Me as a baby and the incscription on the back. Right: My officially registered  birth date.

Top and left: Me as a baby and the incscription on the back. Right: My officially registered  birth date.

Have I confused you enough? The December birthday is important to me because it retains my dragon traits; yes, dragons are also very proud creatures. Whereas if I were to have been born on January 10, 1976 that would make me a rabbit...and that of course would never sit well with me as I have a brother who is already a rabbit.

So as you can see, I'm giving myself the hassle by insisting on being a dragon and I'm very aware that many Westeners will still find it difficult to understand why. I just can't drop my unofficial/ dragon birthdate. So poor Christoph has to put up with remembering both... which reminds me; I'll be turning 39 next month but only turned 38 last week! Lol