Have you ever asked when the tradition of celebrating birthdays began? In the most basic sense, it’s a day for friends and family to get together and celebrate you, your birth anniversary, and another year of your life. But there’s a lot more to it.
It’s been changing over time, being what we know it to be now. This commonly practiced custom had to begin somewhere, and that is what we are attempting to discover here today. We’ve pieced together some historians’ theories to make this one massive component of our history a tiny bit more understandable.
Here’s what we’ve seen so far:
- No concept of birthdays before the invention of calendars
- Egyptians were the first people who start the celebration of their birthdays
- Romans were the second who celebrated their birthdays
- Celebrating one’s birthday considered a Pagan rite
- Mithras cult birthday festivities
- Greeks celebrate their birthdays
- Celebration of birthday Gregorian calendar
- Birthday Cakes and Candles were brought by Germans
- The Industrial Revolution and Modern Birthday
1. Before The Invention of Calendars, The Birthdays Didn’t Begin:
Early civilizations had no means of keeping track of time. This made it impossible for them to remember important dates like birthdays and anniversaries of a person. As time passed, people come to know that they were seeing the effects of aging; they just didn’t have a way to commemorate it.
It wasn’t until ancient people started to notice the moon’s movement that they began to notice seasonal changes as well. They have found that this trend kept repeating itself. They started keeping track of the passage of time.
This is what irritated the first schedules, which were used to mark time shifts and other significant events. Birthdays and other special milestones and anniversaries could be celebrated each year thanks to this kind of monitoring device.
2- Egyptians Were The First Who Started The Celebration Of Their Birthdays:
Egyptians were the ones who started it all (Time: 3000 B.C). The Christian Bible is the first place where a birthday party or celebration is mentioned. The birthday party of an unidentified king to whom Joseph served is mentioned briefly.
People celebrated the birthdays of great persons such as kings, gods, and royal nobility in Mesopotamia and Egypt, two areas where civilizations flourished.
The primary reason for keeping a birthday record in ancient times was to predict a person’s horoscope based on his or her birthdate.
3- Learn How Romans Were Celebrated Their Birthdays:
If we look at history, we will see that there is little information concerning the everyday lives of ordinary people. Because only the affluent and nobles had the resources to record their lives and significant events, only the wealthy and nobles were able to do so. As a result, according to texts and other historical evidence, the Romans commemorated noteworthy people and events by celebrating their birthdays. They marked the beginning of any occasion with a celebration. They also had a Parilia celebration, which was held to pray for the health of sheep, shepherds, and other animals.
The founding of Rome City was commemorated on April 21st, 753 B.C., and was known as Natalis Urbis.
When it comes to Roman birthdays, they were referred to as “Dies Natalis,” which means “birthday, anniversary” in Latin.
Although birthday celebrations at the time were very different from ours in that they were away for royal kings to demonstrate their greatness, wealth, and to create an event that would be remembered by the public for a long time, they were a way for them to show their greatness, wealth, and to create an event that would be etched in the public’s memory for a long time. There was a lot of wine, sacrifices, and other religious ceremonies at these birthday festivities.
4- Celebrating One’s Birthday Considered A Pagan Rite:
“A person who maintains religious views that differ from the majority is referred to be a Pagan,” according to the definition. The term “paganism” was first used in the Roman empire’s fourth century (304 B.C. to 396 B.C.). Pagans believed that bad spirits sought to infiltrate your life on your birthday and other special occasions.
As a result, they began a birthday celebration ceremony to fend off bad spirits. This Pagan ritual also demonstrates the connection between birth tracking and ancient astrology.
Individual birthdays were not celebrated by ancient Jews and Christians because they considered this wrong. Christians, on the other hand, started commemorating their God Jesus’ birthday in the fourth century. According to the Encyclopedia Americana, “the ancient worlds of Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Persia honored the birthdays of gods, monarchs, and nobles” (1991 edition).
5- Mithras Cult Birthday Festivities:
Mithraism is a religion that began in Persia and spread throughout the Roman Empire between the first and fourth centuries. Many historians doubt the existence of this mysterious religion. The Mithras were the first to celebrate the average man’s birthday. As a result, in addition to kings and nobility, the average man was permitted to celebrate his or her birthday.
As per certain views, the Mithra represented the Sun or the Persian god of light itself. And the birthday of the Sun-god was celebrated on the 25th of December. As a result, Mithras’ birthday falls on the same day as Jesus’ birthday, which is December 25th. On the same day, pagans commemorated Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture, Saturnalia is named after the Roman deity of agriculture, Saturn.
6- How Greeks Learned The Tradition Of Birthdays Celebration:
The birthday of Artemis, a Greek goddess, was also celebrated in a similar way by Greeks. Artemis, also known as the Deer Huntress, was honored with a festival. They presented her with stag-shaped cakes made of dough, honey, and sesame seeds for this occasion.
They also blew out candles and made loud noises in the vicinity of the person celebrating his or her birthday. The purpose of this ritual was to protect the individual from evil spirits. In 3000 B.C., the Egyptians invented wicked candles, and other civilizations such as the Romans and Greeks followed suit.
7- Celebration Of Birthdays According to Gregorian Calendar:
Israel was the one who started it all.
Date: October 15, 1582
The Hebrew and Gregorian calendars were used by Israelis for various purposes. One of the Gregorian calendar’s purposes was to commemorate birthdays. There was no leap year on this calendar, and the year had 365.2425 days. As a result, we can say that Hebrews commemorated their birthdays.
8- Birthday Cakes and Candles Were Brought By Germans:
In the 15th century, Germany began manufacturing birthday cakes that are identical to the ones we consume today on our special day. Although the cakes were single layer, spherical in shape, and white in color at the time. Birthday parties and weddings were the most common occasions when they were employed. Getting a cake and celebrating your birthday at the time cost a lot of money, thus such events were only for royalty and the wealthy. Cakes changed in appearance and flavor during the 17th century.
The use of candles for birthdays can also be traced back to Germans, who used to celebrate children’s birthdays with candles on a cake. The candles were supposed to protect them from evil spirits. Kinderfes was the name of the event.
In a book on Ludwig von Zinzendorf, there is also an account of a birthday party in 1746. He described a huge cake with candles proportional to the person’s age and one candle in the middle in his narrative. So, thank the Germans for introducing us to the ritual of birthday cakes.
9- The Industrial Revolution Helped Modern Birthdays:
Birthday festivities for ordinary people are rarely mentioned in history. The reason for this could be that only the wealthy and privileged could afford to spend money on birthday cakes and celebrations. Things do, however, alter over time. The surge in popularity of cake-cutting ceremonies on birthdays and other occasions such as weddings, anniversaries, and office inaugurations was fueled by the industrial revolution and an increase in the number of bakeries. Also, as people’s incomes increased, they began to spend a significant amount of money to commemorate their special day.
We can no longer fathom a birthday without a party, birthday presents, birthday wishes, or a birthday cake. However, modern-day birthday customs can be traced back to religious festivals in ancient cultures.