You know how it seems everyone gets engaged over the holidays? There must be something in the air, as another... uh... milestone tends to happens around that festive time of year as well: According to researchers at Harvard University, if you were born on Sept. 16, then congratulations, you have the most common birthday in the world! Statistically, conception rates peak in December, so it seems that taking time off over the holidays can lead to some eggnog-fueled productivity resulting in a bump in births nine months down the road. So sorry to put that image in your mind, but you can't stop the truth, right?
There's just one catch: Although the news is making the internet rounds again, it's actually pretty old. The data comes courtesy of Amitabh Chandra, an economist and social policy professor at Harvard University, who collected U.S. birthrates for each individual day between 1973 and 1999. The enormous data sample was transformed into a chart and published by the New York Times back in 2006, enabling Gen X-ers and Millennials alike to easily see exactly where their birthday stands compared to the other 364 days of the year.
The Daily Viz took it a step further from there, creating an interactive visualization of the average birthrate from 1994 through 2014. What's more, the more recent data averages, supplied by the U.S. Social Security Administration, actually name the most popular birthday in the new Millennium as something different: Sept. 9.
But either way, if during your childhood it always felt like everyone was bringing in birthday cupcakes as soon as the school year began, you were definitely onto something. Statistically, the most common birth month in the United States is August, followed by September as a very close second. This means Virgo is the most popular sign. Virgos tend to be analytical, reserved, sensitive and artistic — all great qualities that make a surplus of this sign pretty beneficial for the country.
According to the Harvard data, the least popular birthday is Feb. 29., otherwise known as Leap Day. This date is only added to calendar years divisible by four, so it's no surprise this birthday is a rare one. Many leaplings choose to blow out their candles on either Feb. 28 or Mar. 1 annually, instead of waiting every four years to have a party. The following least popular birthdays fall on Christmas Day and New Years' Day. So while people born on those days have to share their birthday with a holiday, they won't be competing with many others turning one year older.
Why do birthrates soar in the fall and plummet in the winter? A drop in conception rates over the summer may lead to a decrease in births over the colder months — for which some scientists blame our biology. “Biologic hypotheses include deterioration of sperm quality during summer, seasonal differences in anterior pituitary-ovarian function caused by changes in the daylight length, and variation in quality of the ovum or endometrial receptivity,” states one study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology. “Increased sexual activity associated with end-of-year holiday festivities has also been postulated.”
But one thing seems to be clear: If you were born in the fall, you can probably blame your existence on mistletoe. Talk about happy holidays.