A Brief History of Dave's Birthday

The true origins of the holiday known as "Dave's Birthday" (or as it is sometimes shortened, "Dave's Day") are lost in the mists of time. In fact, some have suggested that the holiday has always existed within humanity's collective unconscious. This is quite likely related to other such inexplicable pieces of Dave-related knowledge that have been known instictively by all humans since the dawn of time, such as the indisputable fact that Dave will die a virgin. Thus far, no plausible explanation has ever been proposed by that branch of philosophers known as "Dave historians" (a term which is perhaps unique in that its subject was not historic but rather futurisitic at the time it was first coined). At any event, one cannot properly begin to delve into the history of Dave's Birthday without first exploring the rather obvious question: Just who is this "Dave" person, anyway?"

As noted above, there are various scraps of information which, so far as anyone can tell, have been present within the minds of every human who has ever lived, information about someone named "Dave," not just before he was born, but before anyone at all had even been named "Dave." Also, the information not only existed within each person's mind in their own language, but perhaps even before there was spoken language. Images have been discovered painted on cave walls throughout the world between the mid 19th and mid 20th centuries, the origins of which have been aunthenticated as up to 30,000 years old, depicting what Dave historians claim to be the Dave. Here is an example of an ancient cave painting of what experts suggest is Dave celebrating his birthday with cake and a can of beer. Bear in mind, there existed at the time this must have been painted, no such things as birthdays, let alone birthday hats, party favors such as the blowout the figure appears to be using, tables, cakes of any kind, beer, nor canning technology.

One cannot help but imagine what it must have been like being an ancient cave-dweller, unable to truly communicate with one's fellow man in anything like the way we do today, but having little to say, in any event. Paintings of hunting and such activities as filled their days represented the limited scope of their understanding of the world, so what must it have been like to occasionally have these images in their minds of a person who they could not comprehend would not exist for millennia to come (much less the concept of "millennia" itself), let alone comprehend what such a person could possibly be doing? It must have been truly disturbing to them. Nevertheless, it is clear evidence that, even before there was such a thing as holidays, people instinctively knew that Dave's Birthday would someday exist.

This dissertation will not attempt to list all the various scraps of instinctive knowledge of Dave, nor incorporate them into the discussion of the holiday in question, which is the single piece of Dave-knowledge that is the subject of this article. In any event, there has never been enough bits of information to put together a full picture of who Dave was (or would be), nor precisely when or where he would live. However, it is now generally agreed upon by leading Dave historians that he is, in fact, David Alan Ward, born September 21, 1975, in Boston, Massachusetts (United States of America). Why this seemingly unremarkable person should occupy a place in the collective subconscious, reaching back through time immemorial, is still far from clear, though there is a subsect of Dave historians who claim they can, in some limited wise, foresee the future. While the writer of this article chooses neither to believe nor disbelieve this claim, it should be noted that the predictions these historians have made are not plucked from the ether. Rather, they are based on a study of Dave himself; that is, his own assumptions concerning his future, and his intentions, seem to form the basis for the historians' predictions. Which some have said is rather like cheating. At any event, Dave has, from an early age, intended to become a famous writer, chiefly of science fiction and fantasy. Assuming he succeeds... at the very least, one could say fame would make him, well, not so unremarkable as he currently seems. He has even suggested that he will be President of the World, which would make him less unremarkable, still. However, regardless of the degree of fame he might (or might not) one day achieve, it could not possibly explain his seemingly impossible status in the collective subconscious. But once again, it needs to be made clear that the picture which you and I and everyone else have in our minds is not nearly clear enough to be certain Dave is "Dave." The one thing we can say is that the holiday known as "Dave's Birthday" does, in fact, fall on September 21.

It must be noted that Dave's Birthday has been celebrated in one form or another, throughout the world, for several thousand years. In the earliest times, the calendar year did not exist as we know it now, but naturally, even if it wasn't measured in the months we now use, a year was still a year. Seasons, at least, occurred at the same time each year, and Dave's Birthday has, in all times and cultures, been celebrated on or around the time of the Autumnal Equinox. In 12th century China, according to Dave historians, fireworks were invented to celebrate Dave's Birthday, though more conventional historians claim their original purpose was to drive away evil spirits. Dave historians rationalize this by saying that the "evil spirits" in question were in fact figments of minds troubled by these phantom thoughts of a person who didn't exist. They make further claims that the Moon Festival is in some way related to Dave's Birthday, though these claims are dubious at best. In any event, official celebrations of Dave's Birthday do often include fireworks, even if pyrotechnics are more commonly associated with Chinese New Year and American Independence Day.

Ancient Celtric Druids celebrated the Autumnal Equinox in various ways, such as offering libations to trees and burning a wicker man. Druids were weird, man. One thing's clear, though: First, that the celebration of Alban Elfed (or as it's more recently called by Wiccans, Mabon) is mostly about the harvest. Just like in every culture in the world. Second, it's about the coming of the dark half of the year. (Wait, that's two things. My bad. I'm getting tired as I write this. You may also notice that my writing style is getting less good.) Erm, where was I? Yes, Druids and Wiccans. Well, another Celtic harvest celebration is, of course, Samhain. Now, Dave likes harvests, and he likes darkness (except when he's trying to find his way, no doubt). And he likes um, libations and trees and stuff. Ahem. The ancient Druids were prophets, and modern Dave historians claim the Druids were some of the earliest members of their occupation. Hence the sect I mentioned earlier who predict the future. No doubt the Druids were better at it, because they knew Dave would like trees (it's not like a big deal or anything, I mean, who doesn't like trees? He's not fanatical about it.) What they didn't know was what type he'd like best (as it happens, birch), but still they greatly respected (some say worshipped) trees, mainly oaks. Even Dave historians admit that Druids (again, like every other culture) probably associated many of their own ideas with Dave's Birthday, just to gain popularity for those ideas. Further complicating matters was how both Alban Elfed and Samhain got confused with the celebration of Dave's Birthday. The upshot is that modern celebrations of Dave's Day tend to include traditions from both holidays, or at least adapted traditions, such as leaving gifts (commonly alcohol, but anything is appreciated) under a "Dave's Day tree" (preferably a birch, though the more traditional oak is also acceptable), as well as carving "Dave-o-Lanterns" (faces meant to resemble Dave's, carved in pumpkins or more traditionally turnips). Once again, evil spirits are probably involved, and once again, that probably has as much to do with the craziness of knowing about someone who didn't exist yet as it does with actual spirits. But either way, Dave likes driving away evil spirits (or else inviting them to dinner so everyone can see they're not so evil after all), and Halloween is like his favorite holiday, which reminds me, Autumn is his favorite season. Is it a coincidence that Dave would have been born at the start of his favorite season? And that so much of his favorite stuff would be used as celebrations of his birthday? Meh, who knows.

But speaking of the harvest, this leads naturally to thoughts of eating. Everyone likes to eat, and people have always come together to do this. Which naturally led to peaceful celebration between people who were otherwise enemies. It's certainly no coincidence that the United Nations chose to make Dave's Birthday their own "International Day of Peace," though Dave historians claim the tradition of peacefully enjoy the bounty of the harvest goes back at least as far as the first American Thanksgiving. They make the claim that it was on Dave's Birthday that the Pilgrims and Native Americans first began making plans for Thanksgiving, though it took a couple of months to hammer out the details. However, many Dave historians also make a connection with Samhain and peace... that is, peace between the living and the dead. (They certainly are an imaginative bunch, those Dave historians.)

You might think by Thanksgiving, with Autumn winding down and Winter winding up, Dave historians would be ready to quit ripping off other holidays for traditions to apply to Dave's Birthday, but you'd be wrong. They'll co-opt whatever they bloody well feel like, even Day of the Ninja... though that one's not so widely known, so... forget I said anything. Seriously, it's in everyone's best interest. But I already mentioned leaving gifts under the Dave's Day tree, which must surely have reminded you of Christmas (though one should never leave presents under a fir tree on Dave's Day, and I might also mention them Druids liked them some mistletoe, which has absolutely no place whatever on Dave's Birthday; one of several reasons Dave historians believe David Ward is the Dave is because he dislikes casual contact of a romantic nature, like kissing, and that's one of the things we all know about Dave- recall the whole "life-long virgin" thing, which also explains why there has been no serious attempt to incorporate any Valentine's Day traditions into Dave's Day). Another traditional Dave's Day celebration is singing carols about Dave, though admittedly, this was a bit dicey in the distant past. However, back in the 1980s, Dave historians made a prediction that at some point in the future, Dave himself would write his own Dave's Day carols. The really strange thing is that even before that, in the 1960s and 70s, Rankin-Bass made a series of little-known animated Dave's Day specials, some of which included songs which they claimed had been written by Dave, who hadn't yet been born. Written in the future! No one is quite sure how to explain that, though some of the craziest of Dave historians have some wacky theories. But anyway, this whole damned phenomenon of everyone knowing about Dave since the beginning of time is crazy, so we should be able to accept anything pertaining to the situation, right? In any event, Dave's Birthday carols are usually sung when one goes "Carol-or-Treating," the object being to obtain treats from people as a bribe not to sing birthday carols at them. (Dave's Day carols, whether written by Dave or not, are generally the next worst thing to Vogon poetry.)

What else? There's also lots of candles on Dave's Birthday. Dave historians suggest that this has to do with lighting Dave-o-Lanterns, as well as bonfires which are traditional, in lieu of actually burning wicker men. And it has to do with Chanukah, and you know, all sorts of things. Seriously, if you can think of a holiday with candles, chances are Dave historians have found a way to tie it in, at some point. They even suggest the tradition of using candles on birthday cakes originated with Dave's Birthday. Many people like to count down to midnight on Dave's Birthday, and then extinguish their bonfires and/or candles and/or Dave-o-Lanterns, to signify simultaneously the end of the holiday and the coming of darkness (that is, the dark half of the year), which is a big part of what the holiday represents.

However, at this point it's necessary to mention that the holiday is actually celebrated over the course of three days. First, there's Dave's Day Eve, which some people take little notice of, though David Ward will sometimes make a big deal of it, as do most Dave historians and various other observers of the holiday. There isn't really much to say about September 20 except that, you know... if you don't think you'll have time for all the stuff you wanna do on the 21st, for whatever reason, it's a good chance to start the celebrating early. Dave historians, curiously enough, have never made much of an effort to explain the creation of this pre-holiday holiday, nor tie it in with any other holidays. Like, say, Christmas Eve. But whatever. The day after Dave's Birthday is "Boxing Dave," which mainly comes from revellers being burned out on all the celebrating, and just generally sick of the name "Dave." So they'll find someone named Dave and punch him. Preferably with boxing gloves on, though this isn't necessary. (There is little if any concern for Queensberry rules.) David Ward himself has made it known that he hates Boxing Dave, but he understands that he probably deserves some backlash after a day or two of being the object of such honor and merriment. Balance is important in all things.

As for any traditions which I haven't yet mentioned, there are those who like to dress in wild costumes (whether as evil spirits or monsters, or brighter, happier things, possibly just colorful masks and clothes; preferably green, but really, all the colors of the rainbow are common). There are often parades and lots of music of every description, mostly very lively, upbeat music. (Happy costumes and music is a way of celebrating the end of Summer, as opposed to most of the holiday's traditions, which are about the onset of Autumn.) Sometimes even the food and drink is dyed green, such as eggs and beer (oh yes, beer is an important element whether dyed or not, and whether left under a Dave's Day tree or not). And speaking of eggs, there's also often Dave egg hunts, with either hard-boiled eggs that have Dave's face painted on them, or plastic eggs with surprises inside, hidden around for people (usually kids, but adults may join in) to hunt for. (Rather than paint Dave's face, it's common just to color eggs with dye left over from Easter. It's also much prettier that way.) Sometimes there's a prize for whoever finds the most Dave's Day eggs, though sometimes the eggs themselves serve as their own reward. It's assumed that the green dye in food and drinks is a modern concept based on the ancient Celtic celebrations of Dave's Birthday. Eggs are also seen as a Druidic or Wiccan thing, though Dave historians can't account for while an element of Spring holidays would be included in an Autumn holiday. However, there are also lots of pranks on Dave's Day, because people seem to see the whole phenomenon as some kind of prank God's playing on humanity. Of course, there are as many ways to celebrate Dave's Birthday as there are people who celebrate it, so if your favorite Dave's Day tradition hasn't been mentioned, don't worry. One of the prime tenets of the holiday is acceptance of everyone, and all ideas. In fact, there are those Dave historians who have suggested that Dave's Birthday was the real inspiration for the quote "Be excellent to each other, and party on, dudes!" from the movie "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure." (These same historians have some other curious theories about that movie's connection to Dave's Birthday and the many temporal incongruities surrounding the holiday, though these are perhaps the most dubious theories in all of Dave historianism, and so won't be gone into here.)

I have, up til now, refrained from actually mentioning the first time the holiday was officially observed in any capacity. Suffice to say it was well before 1975, like centuries before. But also centuries after the earliest observations I've mentioned here. I can't give you the exact date or any details, because of a standing order from the Vatican. Even telling you that much is bordering on breaking a rule it would be highly dangerous to break, though I wouldn't be surprised if you could discover other websites that provide details. Still, I'd suggest you take those details, should you find them, with a grain of salt. And pepper. Dave likes him some pepper....

In closing, it should be noted that David Ward has long considered his birthday to be a holiday. It isn't known whether he has the same instinctive knowledge of "Dave" that the rest of humanity has; certainly, he could easily confuse it with his own first-hand knowledge of himself. In any event, he has sometimes said it's his favorite holiday, and other times he doesn't care about it at all. Oddly enough, he has a tendency to think of himself as the least important person in the world, and some years would simply rather not take any notice of his birthday at all. This may be due to his need to feel depressed, and to inculcate that feeling in himself. But even on such years, he still likes to think of his birthday as the start of the holiday season. (He says that most people think of Thanksgiving as the start, leading to Christmas and New Year's; but Halloween being his favorite holiday, he chose to see that as the real start of the holiday season, and later set the start even further back, on his birthday. Later still he thought the 3-day American Folk Festival in Bangor, Maine, at the end of August, would be a good start, though most Dave historians think that's taking things too far, and continue to regard Dave's Birthday as the true start of the season.) Then there are the years Dave feels like celebrating in an over-the-top way, like creating a section of his website to treat his birthday as something ridiculously larger than it actually is. (This may be a reverse-psychological way of inculcating his depression, or a regular-psychological way of trying to avoid it. Or it could just be Dave being Dave.) On a related note, some of the crazier Dave historians have commented on the fact that in a book David will write in the future, in the series about Darius Lonewander, who is somewhat based on David himself, Darius will threaten to haunt a friend of his if the friend makes Darius's birthday a holiday after he dies. This echoes David's own often rocky relationship with his birthday, they say. Time will tell if they're as crazy as they sound, but again... their predictions are based on stuff David himself has said, so... whatever.

Dave's Birthday index