Evolution of Birthday Celebrations

We all love being the center of attention on our birthdays but did you know that there is a history behind some of the traditional birthday celebrations we have today?! Here’s what we discovered in our quest to make Par-T-Perfect your party experts!

  • Birthday celebrations were originally used to ward off evil spirits! In pagan culture it was believed evil spirits visited people on their birthdays. To protect the birthday person from the evil effect, people used to surround them with a party! By making a lot of noise and bringing good wishes for the birthday person, evil spirits would be scared away. Gifts were not a tradition however, in later years flowers were a popular gift.
  • In the beginning common families were unable to celebrate due to lack of wealth.  Historians have documented that only kings, high-ranking nobility and those who held high positions in society celebrated birthdays as they felt only the wealthy were “worth” being written about. (Good thing that’s changed today)
  • King Pharaoh used to celebrate his birthday by giving a feast to his court followers.
  • Some believe the tradition of birthday cake was started by early Greeks who used to take round or moon shaped cakes to the temple of Artemis- the Goddess of Moon. Other historians believe the cake tradition started in Germany. Birthday cakes were mostly round in shape as that was an easy shape to form free hand & represented the sun or moon (thank goodness we have baking pans now!)
  • In medieval times, the people of England used to place symbolic objects like coins, rings and thimbles in the batter. Whoever found the coin in the cake would be wealthy while the unlucky finder of the thimble meant they would never marry. If the cake fell during baking, it was considered bad luck for the person in the coming year.
  • In Victorian times, they began icing cakes. By the 19th century cakes progressed into what we know today as birthday cakes.
  • Candles were originally placed on cakes to make it glow like the sun or moon by the Greeks. In Germany, one candle in the center of the cake was to symbolize the light of life.
  • It is said that sending birthday cards started in England about 100 years ago
  • “Happy Birthday to You” was written by sisters Mildred & Patty Hill in 1893. They wrote it as ” Good Morning To You”  to sing to the children they taught. The song as we know it today was copyrighted in 1953 and the copyright is scheduled to expire in 2030. Technically making it illegal to publicly prerform unless royalties are paid to the Summy Company & it’s owner Warner Chappell who bought the company in 1990. The value of the song is estimated at $5 million dollars.  Because of the copyright issues, you will only hear a portion of  “Happy Birthday” sung in movies, this is why you see “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” performed instead. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, “Happy Birthday” is the most popular song in the English Language.

Now that you know some of the history behind our favorite birthday traditions, you can begin your own as well. Be sure to visit our blog www.par-t-perfect.com for more birthday ideas & traditions that will help you create a lasting, happy memory for many birthdays to come!