Birthday – It is considered to be an occasion of celebration and joy. Family members and friends come together and wish the person well-being and bring presents. They sing, dance and do all kind of fun things together to make the occasion special. For some, birthdays are a public event with parties of grandeur, some keep it a personal occasion and there are some who want to forget about it altogether.
Birthday celebrations were not always there in our society. This all came to be with time, bit by bit from different times and cultures. There is no exact date on when such birthday celebrations become a norm. People in earlier times had no way of marking specific dates and time. Their only way of knowing was to follow the sun and moon positions. They started studying more about their positions and formed a specific pattern and marked specific dates based on their position. People also started to marks more events and a person’s birthday was one of them. The earliest mention of a birthday celebration in the Bible for Pharaohs of ancient Egypt. More on wikipedia.
Many say the birthday celebrations were used as a mask against evil spirits. It was believed that the person was more vulnerable on days when there would be some life changing event, like turning a year older. So the family members would gather around him and make noise to scare away evil spirits. Even though birthdays have been celebrated for long, there aren’t many records to confirm that, except those of kings or nobles. It is believed that the common man was not important enough to get his mention in the history and as such there aren’t many mentions of birthday celebrations among common people. In the earlier centuries of Christianity, celebrating birthdays was considered as a pagan affiliation. It wasn’t till the 4th century when the birthday of Jesus was celebrated as Christmas and marked a day for celebrations. Romans can be credited with celebrating birthdays of common men, but these affairs were small and birthdays of women were not celebrated.
Every culture has its own way of celebrating birthdays now, some try to keep it as a religious ceremony, while there are some who try to have as much fun as possible. Different traditions are followed everywhere. The birthday celebrations that we see today have mix of many cultures and times. Germans can be said to credited with the modern cake and candle celebration for birthdays. They were the first to use cakes with candles for it. A candle was added every year to mark the years passed and another was added for the year to come. Blowing of candles and making wishes was also part for their traditions.
The iconic song ‘Happy Birthday to You’ was not intended to be what we hear. Two sisters Patty and Mildred Hill wrote a song ‘Good morning to all’, but it was noticed by people when the original song was rewritten to ‘Happy birthday to you’ and soon become one of the most sung song which every person gets to hear on his/her birthday.
Celebrating birthdays have come a long way from being a godly affair to getting celebrated by everyone. It has become an occasion of joy and happiness.