Have you ever thought about why we even bother to celebrate birthdays? When you think about it, they’re really just an opportunity for your friends and family to come together and congratulate you for surviving another year. But for some reason it’s become far more than that.
Although research on the exact origin of birthdays and birthday cakes remains inconclusive, there is enough of a consensus to piece together an approximate history. Perhaps someday a Birthdayologist will come along to set the record completely straight.
To children and adult of all ages, a birthday is a reason to celebrate. But why? What are the reasons for many of our birthday celebrations?
- Why do we celebrate birthdays?
The idea of celebrating the date of your birth is a tradition. The ancient Greeks believed that each person had a spirit that attended his or her birth, and kept watch. That spirit “had a mystic relation with the God on whose birthday the individual was born,” says the book The Lore of Birthdays. So then again, why do we blow out candles on our birthday? The candles were a response to the evil spirits. They showed up to communicate between the souls with the gods. That’s what many people may call a light, in the darkness.When pharaohs were crowned in ancient Egypt they were considered to have transformed into gods. This divine promotion made their coronation date much more important than their birth into the world. Scholars have pointed to the Bible’s reference of a Pharaoh’s birthday as the earliest known mention of a birthday celebration (around 3,000 B.C.E.), but Egyptians believes this is referencing the subject’s coronation date, since that would have been the Pharaoh’s “birth” as a god.
The Greeks offered moon-shaped cakes to Artemis as a form of tribute to the lunar goddess. To recreate the radiance of the moon and her perceived beauty, Greeks lit candles and put them on cakes for a glowing effect. The Greeks most likely took the idea of birthday celebration from the Egyptians, since just like the celebration of the pharaohs as “gods,” the Greeks were celebrating their gods and goddesses.
The prevailing opinion seems to be that the Romans were the first civilization to celebrate birthdays for non-religious figures. Romans would celebrate birthdays for friends and families, while the government created public holidays to observe the birthdays of more famous citizens. Those celebrating a 50th birthday party would receive a special cake made of wheat flour, olive oil, honey and grated cheese. All of this said, female birthday still weren’t celebrated until around the 12th century.
Due to its belief that humans are born with “original sin” and the fact that early birthdays were tied to “pagan” gods, the Christian Church considered birthday celebrations evil for the first few hundred years of its existence. Around the 4th century, Christians changed their minds and began to celebrate the birthday of Jesus as the holiday of Christmas. This new celebration was accepted into the church partly in hopes of recruiting those already celebrating the Roman holiday of Saturnalia.
The Germans are credited with starting the kid’s birthday tradition in the 1700s. They put candles on tortes for “kinderfeste,” one for each year of life, along with some extras to signify upcoming years.
- Why do we sing “Happy Birthday To You?”
It’s the most recognizable song in the English language, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, and it started as a song for schoolkids.
In 1893, two Kentucky schoolteachers, Patty and Mildred Hill wrote “Good Morning To All.” The tune was published in a book for schoolteachers.
It’s unclear who changed the words to “Happy Birthday To You,” but in 1933, that song was in an Irving Berlin musical. One of the Hill’s sisters sued, arguing that they held the copyright to the song. They won the case, and the courts have ruled that copyright still holds today. In fact, some believe the song is under copyright until 2030.
I don’t know about y’all but when it comes to my boys birthday, as lexis will say, don’t let the Friday go waste. I give my best shot and i don’t make it go waste at all. Life is about fun and the most important thing is that, you make sure you are on the positive side. Stay connected and stay active as we keep on celebrating life. ###PEACE###