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Twenty-First Birthdays

 Twenty-one, today, 
 Twenty-one today! 
 I've got the key of the door, 
 Never been twenty-one before...*

* (An old Music Hall song often sung at 21st birthday parties.)

It is an important date in any person's life when he or she officially comes of age.* A twenty-first birthday party is generally arranged to celebrate the occasion. All those invited to the party send or bring presents, and of course nobody forgets to send a card. Twenty-first birthday cards usually have a picture of a key on them, which is a symbol of the young person's independence. Sometimes the parents or some of the friends of the person who has reached the legal age of maturity, give him a large cardboard key painted silver, and those present at the party sign their names on the back of it. Often the guests bump him 21 times.

* (to come of age - in English law, to become old enough to be legally deemed mature (with respect to crime, contracts, marriage, etc.) - 21 years of age; cf. under age too young, not yet of age, and over age - too old.)

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