What's an attainment day?

It's the day before your birthday. When I was growing up my family always recognized attainment days. We were the only family I knew of who even heard of them, but that's because my father worked for Social Security and it mattered to him. According to the federal government you attain your new age the day before your actual birthday, so you may as well start celebrating a then. A word of warning, although Social Security will give and deny benefits a month early to those born on the first of a month, it apparently does not apply to drinking ages. I tried to get served on the day before my 21st birthday (within hours of midnight) but was denied. You can see how the  Social Security administration figures it by going to the following website:


My father explains it thus:

On your first birthday you are one year and one day old. So you attain your first year of life on the last day of your first year. The first year of life starts on the day of birth and ends after 365 or 366 days. The second year of life begins on the second birthday. When social security monthly benefits started individuals got benefits beginning with the first month they were 65. A person born on the first day of the month e.g. September 1, would get a monthly benefit payment for August since they attained their 65th year in August.

Anyway, how does one celebrate an attainment day?

Start by singing "Happy Attainment Day to You" to the honored person. Beyond that, at my house, we try to make sure the person having the attainment day gets to do some of his or her favorite things, just to get some advance celebrating on the big day.

Did you celebrate your Attainment Day growing up? Did you even know about them? If so, I'd love to hear from you. Please e-mail me at phayesboh@bridgew.edu

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Last updated May 6, 2009