A statistics professor I know was taken aback to discover that 34 out of his almost 3,000 Facebook friends—or a shocking 1 out of 87—were born on January 1. “Probability theory fails!” he wondered. Is it, however, the case? Perhaps not.

Maybe because it’s the default birthdate for people who don’t know for sure or don’t want to reveal the exact day. Actually, I browsed over my Facebook friend list as well. There are also disproportionately many birthdays on January 1. I have no doubt that many readers may also experience this. January 1st, the Gregorian calendar’s first day of the year, is a day on which many individuals should be born.

Several Indian luminaries, both past and present, including Satyendra Nath Bose, Vidya Balan, Asrani, Nana Patekar, and Jyotidatya Scindia, were able to celebrate their birthdays and the New Year together. However, it doesn’t seem that having a birthday on January 1 is particularly noteworthy. Assuming, maybe, what my acquaintance described above indicates, that births happen annually at a steady pace, one in 365 (or, more accurately, one in 365.25) persons should be born on January 1.

That amounts to around 0.27 percent of the total population. January 1st cannot be considered the beginning or the end of the earth’s single elliptical round; rather, it is merely a point in the infinite hoop rolling of time as the world circles around the sun and on its axis. On the other hand, January 1st holds special significance as the day Julius Caesar altered the calendar, partly to honor Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, whose dual faces allowed him to look into the past and the future.

However, the Julian calendar was altered by Pope Gregory, who also declared January 1 to be the start of a new year. As a result, it eventually gained traction throughout Europe and beyond. Users can set January 1 as their “default” birthday on a variety of other platforms. Due to this “default” reasoning, all of the residents of some Indian villages with Aadhaar data were born on January 1st. A media report claims that most residents of Kakra village in Madhya Pradesh’s Shivpuri district do not have any official documents attesting to their age.

As such, the officials tasked with enrolling Aadhaar applicants gave them the same month and day of birth. Similarly, most of the residents of Kanjasa village in the Jasra block of Gurpur, Allahabad, have their birthday on January 1. According to reports, practically all of the people living in the Van Gujjar village of Gaindi Khata, Haridwar, had the same birthday on their Aadhaar cards.

The UIDAI said in a press release that in accordance with its enrollment policy, if an individual doesn’t know their precise date of birth and doesn’t have any documentation to support it, the UIDAI accepts their declared age or year of birth, and January 1 of that year is used as their date of birth for Aadhaar enrollment.

However, this is not exclusive to India. New Year’s Day marks the birthday of thousands of immigrants and refugees worldwide.

Since many of them lack access to their birth certificates and some of them fled a disaster in a part of the world where birthdays aren’t as important, January 1 is chosen by default. A few years back, a Business Insider article cited US immigration data from 2009, showing that 11,000 of the over 80,000 refugees who arrived in the US that year were born on January 1.

That is still an improbable high of 14%, even if you don’t assume a uniform distribution of births throughout the year. When these migrants arrive in the US requesting asylum, they are often told to enter January 1 as their date of birth because they do not have formal birth certificates. Immigrant children wish their parents a Happy Birthday in addition to a Happy New Year at midnight because the January 1 birthday is so well-liked by newcomers! Australia also encounters the similar issue. In the past, Australians who could not provide confirmation of their birthdate were given one, with many being forced to use the first of the year.

After regulations were changed in 2011, December 31 became the official date of birth for persons in Australia. Official documentation was rarely found among Australians belonging to the Stolen Generation, but when it was, it listed July 1 as their birthdate rather as January 1. Generally speaking, though, one can question if birthdays on January 1st are equally likely to occur on other dates. In many communities, the answer is undoubtedly “no.” They are, in reality, much less likely, for partially known reasons.

Although January 1 is a very common birthday for immigrants, New Year’s Day is actually one of the least popular birthdays for native-born Americans. Following an analysis of US birth data from 1994 to 2014, FiveThirtyEight, a reputable polling organization, ranked January 1 as the 365th day out of 366, only surpassed by Christmas Day. The reasons given for the popularity or unpopularity of particular dates included Leap Day, Friday the 13th, parents going into labor early to avoid hospital holidays, and a host of other issues. Similarly, January 1st may be one of the least popular days to be born in several other nations, such as Australia.

To begin with, very few people seem to think that giving birth is a fun way to spend a holiday. It’s likely that doctors would prefer to relax than perform newborn deliveries over the holidays. For instance, the five least common days for births in Australia are Christmas Day, Boxing Day (December 26), New Year’s Day, Australia Day (January 26), and Anzac Day (April 25).

Nevertheless, there could be a number of ways in which society adopts January 1 as the “default” or deadline for many tasks. In his 2008 book “Outliers: The Story of Success,” Malcolm Gladwell, for example, pointed out that a disproportionate amount of Canadian professional hockey players are born in the first few months of the year. This is justified by the fact that young hockey leagues set January 1 as the cutoff date since they base eligibility on the calendar year.

Consequently, children born on January 1st play in the same league as children born on December 31st of the same year. And even at that young age, kids born in January or February, for instance, are regarded as better athletes and clearly have more physical maturity than younger kids born in the latter half of the year.

They consequently receive more coaching and stand a better chance of being chosen for premier hockey leagues. Numerous other nations and situations are similar to this one. Thus, whatever the “default” cut-off date is, it may have a big impact on society. In any case, happy New Year to all of you readers. And happy birthday to everyone whose birthday falls on January 1st!

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