An unbirthday (originally written un-birthday) is an event that is typically celebrated on any or all of the 364 (365 on leap years) days in which it is not a person's birthday. It is a neologism coined by Lewis Carroll in his 1871 novel Through the Looking-Glass, giving rise to "The Unbirthday Song" in the 1951 animated feature film Alice in Wonderland.
One's unbirthday should not be confused with one's half-birthday, which only occurs once a year.
In Through the Looking-Glass, Humpty Dumpty is wearing a cravat (which Alice at first mistakes for a belt) which he says was given to him as an "un-birthday present" by the White King and Queen. He then has Alice calculate the number of unbirthdays in a year.
In the Disney animated film Alice in Wonderland, Alice stumbles upon the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Dormouse having an unbirthday party and singing "The Unbirthday Song" (music and lyrics by Mack David, Al Hoffman and Jerry Livingston). Alice at first doesn't realize what an unbirthday is; when the Mad Hatter explains it to her, she realizes it is her unbirthday as well, and receives an unbirthday cake from the Mad Hatter. The scene from the film combines the idea of an unbirthday introduced in Through the Looking-Glass with the "Mad Tea Party" described in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Later in the film; the Mad Hatter mentions this unbirthday party when he is summoned as a witness at Alice's trial. The King of Hearts realizes that it's the Queen of Hearts' unbirthday as well, and the trial is abruptly halted to celebrate.
The unbirthday party is also the subject of a 1951 comic released to coincide with the film. The comic version is substantially longer (32 pages) than the scene in the animated film, and has Alice being invited to the unbirthday party of Tweedledum and Tweedledee (who are not actually present at the unbirthday party). Humpty Dumpty is a character in the comic version, although not in the manner in which he appears in Through the Looking-Glass.
- Lewis Carroll (1871). Through the Looking-Glass. Chapter VI, "Humpty Dumpty", written as "un-birthday".
- Oxford English Dictionary vol. 10/1 (1926). p. U63 (p. 645 of the electronic version).
- "A Very Merry Unbirthday to You". Retrieved on 20 September 2008.
- Carroll, Lewis (1872). Through the looking-glass, and what Alice found there. London: Macmillan and Co. pp. 121–123.
- Lewis Carroll (1865). Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Chapter VII, "A Mad Tea Party".
- Walt Disney Productions (1951). Walt Disney's Unbirthday Party with Alice in Wonderland. Dell Four Color Comics No. 341.