Claire Fitzsimons, 24, nurse

When I was younger, I hated my birthday. In primary school, they gave a cake in class to whoever’s birthday it was, but I never got one because we were always off on New Year’s Eve. I just wished I was able to celebrate my birthday in school and have a cake like everyone else. It used to really upset me when my family would come round for New Year and everyone would cheer at midnight – I thought they were cheering that my birthday was over.

Now I really like it. Some people say they feel a sense of anti-climax after Christmas Day, but I don’t have that because I get to look forward to my birthday and plan my celebrations. I usually have lunch with my family and then have friends round for dinner and a party: people always expect you to host a Hogmanay party when it’s your birthday. I get a bit awkward saying it is a birthday event and having all the focus on me, so I usually call it a "New Year’s birthday". I prefer to think of it as a Hogmanay thing because, after all, the bells are the main feature of the night.

As I got older, I realised the 31st was actually a great day to have a birthday: I got to stay up late, nobody was ever working, and everyone was up for having fun with me. I haven’t stayed in on my birthday night since I was about 14. I guess I feel pressured to either go out or have a party.

One problem is that people often already have plans, especially since I’ve got into my twenties and my friends have started wanting to do things with their significant other. It’s hard to get everyone together who you really want to celebrate with you, as people often make New Year’s commitments really far in advance. But at the same time, it means your birthday stretches out because you’ll see different people at different times if they are busy on the day itself. I usually end up having celebratory dinners, lunches and drinks spread out across the festive season.

It’s a really cheery time of year. Everyone is up for having a party and a big celebration and I appreciate that a lot more now I’m older. I also like to use my birthday as an opportunity to think about everything I’ve done that year – it just ties in so nicely with starting the year from scratch. I look at it like New Year, new age, new me.

Presents can sometimes be disappointing – some people will get me one present to cover my birthday and Christmas. Or more often, they’ll get me two little things, but generally smaller presents than what my siblings (who have summer birthdays) get. Having said that, my close family and friends always make an effort to keep them separate and celebrate the two events differently. My absolute bugbear? When people wrap my birthday presents in Christmas paper.

I might start celebrating my "half birthday" in June, to try and get some extra presents six months later rather than having them all at once. My boyfriend’s birthday is the 12th of July, so I might make it a joint event from now on.

A few months ago, I moved from Glasgow to Adelaide, Australia – so my birthday will be a bit different this year. My parents are flying over to visit and we’re having a dinner on the beach, followed by a New Year’s Eve party and fireworks. I’m really excited because it will be the first year that I’ve had hot weather on my birthday. There’s just one problem: I really hate fireworks. I guess I was born on a pretty unlucky day in that sense – there will always be fireworks on New Year’s Eve. You can’t escape them.

Alex Burns