The best moments of my childhood was my birthday.I think its time to ask mummy why she also makes “)t)” on our birthday. I mean twinny and I.We never had the opportunity to cut cakes or perhaps go to the mall or the beach.Our little symbol was the “)t)” and mummy made it so special.
After battling with my brain on the evolution of birthday, i asked a few friends if they have ever being curious about how birthday’s evoluted? No was the best answer i got.
I then decided to embark on this journey.
Birthdays are seen as the celebration of our birth and another year of our life under the sun.
But, there is so much more to it than that.
Birthdays were started after calendars were created.At the time the moon and the sun were used to tell the time and other important events. It made it difficult for them to pay attention to a person’s birth date,as days went by, people realized that they experienced the effect of aging but didnt have the means to mark their special milestone.
Ancient people began taking note of the moons cycle and started paying attention to the change in seasons.They noticed that the patterns repeated itself over and over again.
This gave birth to the first calenders which marked time changes,special days and important events. Being able to track time led to the celebration of birthdays,anniversaries and important events every year.
It all started with the Egyptians.
The celebration of birthdays according to scholars who studied the Bible said the earliest mention of a birthday was around 3,000 B.C. and was in reference to a Pharaoh’s birthday. The pharoahs birthday was not their birth into the world, but their “birth” as a god.
Epyptian Pharoahs were considered to have transformed into gods after being crowned . This was an important moment in their lives than their physical birth.
Pagans, such as the ancient Greeks, strongly believed that each person had a spirit that was present on the day of their birth. The spirit kept watch over them and had a union with the god on whose birthday that particular individual was born.A great part of Greek culture were their Gods and goddesses. They offered many tributes and sacrifices to appease these gods.
EVOLUTION OF BIRTHDAY CAKES
As a tribute to her, The Greeks would offer a moon-shaped cakes beautified with lit candles to recreate the glowing radiance of the moon and Artemis’ perceived beauty as a tribute to her. The candles also symbolized prayer. Blowing out the candles with a wish is another way of sending that message to the gods.
BIRTHDAYS WERE A FORM OF PROTECTION
It is assumed that the Greeks adopted the Egyptian tradition of celebrating the “birth” of a god. The Greeks like many other pagan cultures, thought that days “birth” days, welcomed evil spirits. They lit candles in response to these spirits and the candles represented a light in the darkness. This implies that birthday celebrations started as a form of protection.
In addition friends and family would gather around the celebrant and protect them from harm with good cheers, thoughts, and wishes. They would give gifts which symbolizes driving away evil spirit.And the noisemaking during the birthday celebration were also used to scare away the unwanted evil.
Birthdays were first considered to be a pagan ritual in Christian culture.
It is believed that all people are born with “original sin ” in Christianity. Early birthdays were tied to pagan gods as a result Christians considered birthdays to be celebrations of evil. This lasted for the first few hundred years of the existence of the Christian Church until the 4th century when Christians abandoned that primitive way of thinking and began celebrating the birth of Jesus, also known as Christmas.
The ancient Romans were the first to celebrate the birth of the common “man.”
This seems to be the first time in history where a civilization celebrated the birth of non-religious figures. Regular Roman citizens would celebrate the birthdays of their friends and family members. The government, however, created public holidays in honor of more famous citizens.
Any Roman turning 50 years old would receive a special cake baked with wheat flour, olive oil, grated cheese, and honey. But an important thing to note is that only men would experience this birthday celebration. Female birthdays were not celebrated until about the 12th century.
German bakers invented the birthday cake.
Kinderfeste was the name for a German birthday party that is closest to today’s style of parties started in the late 18th century. This party was held for German kids, and featured a birthday cake beautified with candles.
Kids were given one candle on top of the cake for each year they had been alive, plus one for the hope of living for at least one more year. Blowing out these candles while making a wish was a big part of these celebrations.
Revolution and sugary cakes.
Sugary cakes were a birthday commodity only wealthy people had access to. This was because the ingredients and sugary treats required were considered to be a luxury.
Then, the time in our history known as the Industrial Revolution allowed birthday celebrations in all cultures to increase. The required ingredients became more widely available. This, in combination with advances in mass production, allowed bakeries the option of offering customers pre-made cakes at lower prices.
THE TUNE OF “HAPPY BIRTHDAY”
Two sisters, Patty Hill and Mildred J. Hill, wrote a song called “Good Morning To All” in 1893 that was published in a book for other school teachers. The original intent of this song was to be sung in class by students before starting the day.
Robert Coleman published a songbook in 1924 that featured this song with a few extra lyrics that quickly came to overshadow the original lyrics. These new lyrics to that popular old tune became what we know as “The Birthday Song” today.
In 1933, this new version was used in an Irving Berlin Musical.
THE WEARING OF CROWNS AND THE LACK OF DOCUMENTATION
Birthday celebrations were reserved for the nobles because they could afford. Anyone other than these nobles were not likely to have been written about and remembered. So it could be that many birthday celebrations were had and there was no one to document them.
It is believed by many historians that this “nobility ” could be the reason behind the custom of wearing a birthday “crown.”
Birthday celebrations have always being with us but had to begin somewhere.
The cake, the candles, the presents, and the song all evolved over time.
Birthday celebrations might change over time.
Another year of life.