A while ago, I appear to have fallen into the habit of wishing people salutations on the aniversary of their birth using “Many Happy Returns” rather than the more standard “Happy Birthday”. This is entirely because of my desire to be slightly different to everyone else, but it occurred to me to wonder where I had picked up the habit. A short read of Wikipedia later, and I have worked out which beacon of illuminated discourse I stole the tendancy from.
It is Winnie the Pooh.
“You seem so sad, Eeyore.”
“Sad? Why should I be sad? It’s my birthday. The happiest day of the year.”
“Your birthday?” said Pooh in great surprise.
“Of course it is. Can’t you see? Look at all the presents I have had.” He waved a foot from side to side. “Look at the birthday cake. Candles and pink sugar.”
“Can’t you see them?”
“No,” said Pooh.
“Neither can I,” said Eeyore. “Joke,” he explained. “Ha ha!”
Pooh scratched his head, being a little puzzled by all this. “But is it really your birthday?” he asked.
“Oh! Well, Many happy returns of the day, Eeyore.”
“And many happy returns to you, Pooh Bear.”
“But it isn’t my birthday.”
“No, it’s mine.”
“But you said ‘Many happy returns’–”
“Well, why not? You don’t always want to be miserable on my birthday, do you?”
“Oh, I see,” said Pooh.
“It’s bad enough.” said Eeyore. almost breaking down “being miserable myself, what with no presents and no cake and no candles, and no proper notice taken of me at all, but if everybody else is going to be miserable too—-”
This was too much for Pooh. “Stay there!” he called to Eeyore, as he turned and hurried back home as quick as he could; for he felt that he must get poor Eeyore a present of some sort at once, and he could always think of a proper one afterwards.