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Old 05 January 2007, 09:44 AM
Victoria J
 
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I would believe that.

I have seen a lot of people with the birth date of either 1st of January or 31st of December when working with people who are refugees or otherwise have come to the UK from countries which don't keep good records of these things. I started to see so many people with the same dates that I asked - and was told (by both other workers, and in some cases by the individuals themselves) that they had choosen the dates because they only actually knew the year of birth.

Most people do know their age, or can have a fairly good guess at it - but may have gone their whole lives without having to be more specific.

Where I am currently working we have a large Somali community, and they come from a country which has no formal government, so it is not hard to imagine how poor documentation from there is.

I also have a colleague from Somalia. He does know his birthday, but he doesn't celebrate it. He is Islamic and celebrates only the appropriate religious holidays* (I think it is a bit like Jehovahs Witnesses who I understand find it quite disrespectful to celebrate non-religious days). Just because birthdays and birthdates are important to us doesn't mean that they are important to everyone.

*I know other Islamic people who do celebrate their birthdays, and have adopted UK customs for celebrating for their own and children's birthdays. So it certainly isn't a belief that everyone who follows the religion has - but it is part of his belief.

Victoria J
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