Birthday Celebrations – Then and Now

The first thing that comes to our minds when we think of a birthday is a cake decorated with lit candles. In most cultures today birthdays are celebrated every year with cakes, candles, balloons Dubai and the famous “Happy Birthday” song. However, people’s opinions on birthday celebrations were quite different in the olden times.

The modern birthday

Birthdays celebrated with birthday cakes and candles was first seen in 18th century Germany. The event was known as Kinderfeste. German bakers made special cakes that were quite similar to the ones we know, for this event. Here, children celebrated their birthdays with cake and candles. Each child was given the number of candles equivalent to their age and an extra candle to symbolize hope for living at least another year. However, at the time such celebrations were only for the rich.

After the industrial revolution things changed drastically. The ingredients used became cheaper and technology improved. Thus, a large number of cakes could be produced at a cheaper price, so even commoners began to enjoy birthday cakes Dubai.

“Happy birthday to you”

The “Happy Birthday to You” song is a variation of the original song “Good Morning to All” written by Patty Hill and Mildred J. Hill in the 1890s. The original was to be sung in classrooms every morning. Naturally this gave rise to many variations of this song. A few decades later Robert Coleman published a song book where he made his own additions to the original lyrics and thus the famous birthday song was made popular.

Early Christians and Ancient Romans

Early Christians did not believe in celebrating birthdays. The church believed that it was a pagan practice and did not encourage it. Celebrating individual birthdays was also seen as egotistic. However, as time went by the birth of the Christ was celebrated and so these ideas slowly died.

In ancient Rome the birth of a child was celebrated after 8-9 days. This was probably because most babies did not survive more than a week due to low standards of healthcare. At birth an amulet is given to each child. A girl is given a lunula and boy is given a bulla for protection from evil. This ceremony was known as dies lustricus (day of purification). Many events led up to this day including naming the baby. The most important event is where the newborn is laid at the father’s feet and if the father accepts the child as his own he will raise the baby to the sky. If he did not the baby will be taken by a slave and left on roadside.

When a boy became 16 he was believed to have come of age. A special celebration was organised by his father where all the slaves and his friends and family gathered. Here the boy placed his bulla and his child’s robes in the front of his house and put on a man’s white robes. There is no record of celebrations of a girl’s birthday.

Today most of us around the globe celebrate birthdays in a similar manner. This is probably a result of being exposed to the same kind of media. Nevertheless, it is interesting to know how the perception of a birthday has changed over the years.