History of Birthday
It is quite interesting to study the history of Birthday celebrations. Earliest history of birthday can be traced before the rise of Christianity where celebrations began to ward off evil spirits!! If this surprises you, read on for more interesting facts and gradual progress of birthday celebrations in history.
Development of Calendars
Early man did not know how to calculate dates so they were not able to pay attention to the anniversary of important events like birthdays. Gradually, human beings began to understand lunar cycles and they developed calendars accordingly. This made it easy for them to calculate the date of birth and celebrate the occasion.
History of Birthday observance can be traced back before the rise of Christianity. In pagan culture it was believed evil spirits visited people on their birthdays. To protect the person having birthday from the evil effect, people used to surround him and make merry. A lot of noise used to be created in such parties to scare away the evil spirits. In those times there was no tradition of bringing gifts and guests attending the birthday party would bring good wishes for the birthday person. However, if a guest did bring gifts it was considered to be a good sign for the person of honor. Later, flowers became quite popular as a Birthday gift.
Early Records of Birthday Celebrations
Historians are certain that birthday celebrations are being held for quite sometimes but there are few records for the same. Documented descriptions of Birthday celebrations are available only for kings, high-ranking nobility and those who held high positions in the society. In the beginning common men and especially children were unable to celebrate the birthdays. Scholars believe that this difference existed because only the nobility was wealthy enough to throw birthday parties and was considered important enough to be written about.
Popular Birthday Celebrations in History
Some of the popular Birthday traditions and symbols that we see today originated hundreds of years ago. Some believe the tradition of Birthday cake was started by early Greeks who used to take round or moon shaped cake to temple of Artemis - the Goddess of Moon. Others believe the custom of Birthday cake initiated in Germany where people used to make bread in the shape of baby Jesuss swaddling cloth.
The popular custom of lighting candles on cake is said to have originated because Greeks used to light candles on the cake taken to Artemis to make it glow like a moon. Some though believe that custom originated because of a religious belief that gods lived in the sky and lighted candles helped to send a signal or prayers to the god. Germans are said to have placed a big candle in the centre of the cake to symbolize the light of life. Even today people make silent wishes as they blow out candles. It is believed that blowing out all candles in one breath brings good luck.
Birthdays in Present Times
Over the years birthday celebrations became quite popular all over the world and today they are globally celebrated by people irrespective of their caste and social status. Though the method of birthday celebrations is similar in number of countries some countries follow unique way of celebrations based on their cultural milieu, religious tradition and spiritual beliefs. Everywhere birthdays are a special day of people and birthday parties are organized to enjoy the day by having fun with loved ones. Those who are unable to wish personally, send their good wishes by way of Birthday Cards following the tradition started in England about a hundred years ago.