A2 Reading Test

Read the text about birthdays, and for questions 1 to 8, choose the correct option.

Why aren’t babies born on certain days?

Do you know anyone whose birthday is Christmas Day? You may know a few, but actually, having a birthday on that day is quite rare.

December 25th is the least common birthday in the USA, Australia and New Zealand. Between 30% and 40% fewer babies are born on this day than on the peak days. In England, Wales and Ireland, Christmas Day is the second rarest day for a birthday. There, the fewest birthdays are on December 26th, the national holiday called Boxing Day. Other festival dates are also uncommon. In the USA, the four least common birthdays are Christmas, New Year, Thanksgiving and Independence Day.

So why does this happen? Actually, there is a very logical reason. A third of babies in the USA are born by caesarean. Obviously, doctors can plan the date for these operations. They don’t schedule them for the national holidays because they want to be celebrating, not working. Also, if babies don’t arrive on time, doctors give the mothers drugs to make them give birth. However, they probably won’t do this during holidays.

Interestingly, though, there are relatively few birthdays on April 1st in England, Wales and New Zealand. It’s not a national holiday, so doctors carry out operations as usual. But in those countries, this day is called April Fool’s Day. Traditionally people play jokes and trick other people on this day. Maybe mothers avoid giving birth then because they are worried that people will bully or play jokes on their child.

Some times of year are more common for birthdays than others. In the USA and New Zealand, the most popular month is September. In the UK, it’s September or early October. The reason for this is because many babies are conceived in the cold, winter months when days are short. Australia, where it is warm in February and March, doesn’t show this pattern. In countries further north than the UK, like Norway and Russia, the peak months are earlier: in July or August.

Think about your birthday. Is it at a common time of year? Would you prefer your birthday to be at a different time of year?


Reading comprehension test

Page 1 of 8

1In Australia, there are 30% - 40% fewer births on Christmas Day than on the most common day of the year.

a.
b.
c.