There was a time when the 18th birthday was considered the biggest cause for celebration – to mark the point at which a child became an adult. Now, it seems that 50 is the new 18, with more birthday cards sold for 50th birthdays than the traditional milestones of 18 or 21.
Cards to celebrate five decades now account for 15 per cent of all sold at retailer Clintons, while cards for 18th and 21st birthdays follow closely behind at 13.8 per cent and 14.1 per cent respectively.
Traditionally, 18th and 21st birthdays have been regarded as most significant as they are points when youngsters have been able to do things such as vote for the first time.
Combined, milestone cards for the over 70’s – including for those reaching their century – now account for almost a fifth of sales.
Tim Fairs, vice-president of marketing and ecommerce at Clintons, said: “When I was a kid, your 18th was the big birthday – it was about becoming an adult – getting the vote, buying alcohol and the chance to marry that girl your parents didn’t approve of.
“Whilst 18 and 21 are still a cause for celebration, we’re seeing that many of the later milestones are moving up the importance ladder. With more centenarians than ever, 50 is a great time to stop, reflect and prepare for the next 50.”
While 21 has always been seen as significant due to it being the age people could first vote until the limit was changed to 18 in 1970 and 16 forScottish elections only from 2015 – it is still seen as a milestone.
Megan Orr, of Liggy’s Cake Company, which has branches in Edinburgh and Glasgow, said the firm was increasingly being commissioned to create cakes for 50th birthdays.
She said: “Certainly for women in particular, we are doing more 50th birthday cakes than we were in the past. It seems that people are choosing to celebrate birthdays as they get older, whereas before, they would perhaps have shied away from celebrating bigger birthdays and maybe not have done something special.”
Celebrities who marked their 50th birthdays in style this year included actors Nicole Kidman, Matt Le Blanc and Emily Watson and singer R Kelly.
Two years ago, Simon Cowell spared no expense to celebrate his 50th, when he invited 400 of his “closest friends” to a party at his 2,500-acre estate in Hertfordshire.