Birthday Traditions – How Did They Start?

When you think of your birthday, you might picture a big cake, presents and parties.  Did you ever think about where these traditions came from? Check out some of these traditions:

Thousands of years ago birthdays were considered a time when the bad spirits as opposed to the good spirits were able to harm you as this day changed a person’s life. It was believed that the only way to keep the bad spirits at bay was to have your friends and family around you so that their good wishes and present giving would keep them at bay.party2

Also noisemakers are thought to be used at parties as a way of scaring away the evil spirits.

The custom of lighting candles originated with people believing that the gods lived in the sky and by lighting candles and torches they were sending a signal or prayer to the gods so they they could be answered. When you blow out the candles and make a wish this is another way of sending a signal and a message.

This is how the way we celebrate our birthday came about. But different cultures celebrate in different ways.

The birthday Bible story that we know best is about the birth of the Christ in Bethlehem. For nearly 2,000 years since that day, the Christian world has honored this birth. The day we all celebrate, is of course, Christmas.

There are other biblical references to birthday party’s. King Pharaoh celebrated his birthday by making a feast for his court followers. That was over 4,000 years ago. The story of King Herod tells that on his birthday he made a supper for his lords, high captains and other special friends in Galilee.

Birthday Parties and Celebrations
The earliest birthday parties were held because people believed evil spirits were particular attracted to people on their birthdays.

At first it was only kings who were recognized as important enough to have a birthday celebration. To protect them from harm, friends and family would to come be with the birthday person and bring good thoughts and wishes.

Giving gifts brought even more good cheer to ward off the evil spirits. As time went by, children became included in birthday celebrations. The tradition of children’s birthday parties first started in Germany, Kinderfeste.

The largest private birthday party to ever happen was in 1970 for Colonel Harlan Sanders’ 89th birthday. The event was attended by over 35,000 people.

Birthday Cakes
One theory about the origin of the birthday cake is that it originated with the Greeks, who baked round cakes representing the full moon for their moon goddess, Artemis. They placed candles on the cake to make it glow, like the moon.

The Germans are also credited with the first cakes and candles. They used a sweet, layered cake and they put a large candle in the center of the cake to represent “the light of life.” Some people believe the smoke from extinguished candles carries their birthday wishes up to heaven.

Birthday Balloons
The first balloons are believed to have been children’s toys, made from animal bladders and/or intestines, often filled with water. The Aztecs used to blow air into the bowels of sacrificed cats and twisted them into animal shapes and presented these to the gods as a sacrifice. Toy balloons were introduced by pioneer rubber manufacturer Thomas Hancock.

European jesters and troubadours were said to sometimes inflate the entrails of recently butchered animals and “entertain” with them. This is where the association of modern-day balloons with celebrations is thought to have originated.

Birthday Song
The Happy Birthday song is more than one hundred years old. It was written in 1893 by two sisters, Patty and Mildred Hill, who were schoolteachers in Louisville, Kentucky. The tune was originally a morning greeting to their students entitled “Good Morning To All.” The lyrics were copyrighted in 1935, 11 years before Patty’s death, and the ownership has swapped hands in multi-million dollar deals ever since. The current copyright is owned by Warner Communications. They purchased it in 1989 for more than $22 million dollars.

Happy Birthday is recognized around the world and has been translated into dozens of languages. It is one of the three most popular songs in the English language.

Birthday Cards
The tradition of sending birthday cards started in England about 100 years ago. Originally cards were often sent as an “apology” when a person couldn’t visit somebody in person.

Birthday Candles
The Greeks were said to have placed candles on the birthday cakes to make them look as if they were glowing like the moon, when offering them up to the goddess, Artemis. The Germans — who were skilled candlemakers — also placed candles on their cakes, but for religious reasons.

Traditions from Around the World:
Birthstones, Flowers and Colors

The birthstones tradition can be traced back to the first century. The stones were used in the breastplate of Jewish High Priests.

The breast plate full of stones, symbolized 12 Israel tribes. Each stone was dedicated to one of the 12 months.

Month Flower Stone Meaning Colors
January Carnation, Snowdrop
Garnet, Emerald, Rose Quartz.
Loyalty, Constancy Black, Dark Blue, Dark Red
February Violet, Primrose
Amethyst, Bloodstone, Onyx, Moonstone.
Sincerity Light Blue, Yellow and purple
March Jonquil, Violet
Aquamarine, Bloodstone, Jade, Rock Crystal.
Courage White, Light Blue
April Sweet Pea, Daisy
Diamond, Opal, Quartz, White Sapphire.
Innocence Yellow, Red and colorless
May Lily of the Valley, Hawthorne
Emerald, Sapphire, Agate, Chrysoprase, Beryl.
Success in Love Yellow, Red and green
June Rose
Pearl, Moonstone, Alexandrite, Agate, Opal.
Good Health Light Blue, White and cream
July Delphinium, Larkspur, Water Lily
Ruby, Carnelian.
Happiness, Contented Mind Green, Russet and red
August Gladiolus, Poppy
Sardonyx, Peridot, Diamond, Jade, Sapphire.
Friendship, Conjugal Felicity Orange, Red and light green
September Aster, Morning Glory
Sapphire, Agate, Moonstone, Lapis Lazuli, Diamond, Chrsolite.
Shrewdness, Love, Clear Thinking Brown, deep blue
October Marigold, Calendula, Cosmos
Opal, Tourmaline, Jasper, Zircon, Aquamarine.
Hope White, Yellow and varied
November Chrysanthemum
Citrine, Yellow Topaz, Pearl, Topaz, Diamond.
Fidelity, Faithfulness Dark Blue, Red and yellow
December Daffodil, Narcissus, Holly
Blue Topaz, Turquoise, Zircon, Lapis Lazuli, Onyx, Ruby.
Prosperity Indigo, Green, greenish-blue

youbulksmart-happy-birthdayTraditions from Around the World:
How Happy Birthday is Said

  • Afrikaans – Veels geluk met jou verjaarsdag!
  • Albanian – Urime ditelindjen!
  • Alsatian – Gueter geburtsdaa!
  • Amharic – Melkam lidet!
  • Arabic – Eed melad said
  • Armenian – Taredartzet shnorhavor! or Tsenund shnorhavor!
  • Assyrian – Eida D’moladukh Hawee Brikha!
  • Australia – Happy Birthday
  • Austrian-Viennese – Ois guade winsch i dia zum Gbuadsdog!
  • Aymara (Bolivia) – Suma Urupnaya Cchuru Uromankja!
  • Basque – Zorionak!
  • Belauan-Micronesian – Ungil el cherellem!
  • Bengali (Bangladesh/India) – Shuvo Jonmodin!
  • Bislama (Vanuatu) – Hapi betde! or Yumi selebretem de blong bon blong yu!
  • Brazil – Feliz Aniversario, Feliz Feliz Aniversario
  • Breton – Deiz-ha-bloaz laouen deoc’h!
  • Bulgarian – Chestit Rojden Den!
  • Cambodian – Som owie nek mein aryouk yrinyu!
  • Canada – Happy Birthday
  • Catalan – Per molts anys! or Bon aniversari!
  • Chamorro – Biba Kumpianos!
  • China – Sheng Ri Kuai Le or Saang yaht faai lokik
  • Croatian – Sretan Rodendan!
  • Czech – Vsechno nejlepsi k Tvym narozeninam!
  • Danish – Tillykke med fodselsdagen!
  • Dutch – Hartelijk gefeliciteerd metje verjaardag
  • Ecuador – Feliz Dia del Santo
  • Egypt – Kule Sana Winta Tayib (boy)
    Kule Sana Wintie Tayyiba (Girl)
  • English – Happy Birthday!
  • Esperanto – Felichan Naskightagon!
  • Estonian – Palju onne sunnipaevaks!
  • Euskera – Zorionak zure urtebetetze egunean!
  • Faroes (Faroe island) – Tillukku vid fodingardegnum!
  • Farsi – Tavalodet Mobarak!
  • Finnish – Hyvaa syntymapaivaa!
  • France – Joyeux Anniversaire!
  • French-canadian – Bonne Fete!
  • Frisian – Lokkiche jierdei!
  • Gaelic – Co latha breith sona dhut!
  • Galician (Spain) – Ledicia no teu cumpreanos!
  • Germany – Alles Gute zum Geburstag or
    Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag
  • Georgian – Gilotcav dabadebis dges!
  • Ghana – Happy Birthday
    Medzi dzigbe njkeke nyuie no wo (ewe tribal language)
  • Great Britain – Happy Birthday
  • Greek – Eftixismena Genethlia! or Chronia Pola!
  • Greenlandic – Inuununnu pilluarit!
  • Gronings (Netherlands) – Fielsteerd mit joen verjoardag!
  • Gujarati (India) – Janma Divas Mubarak!
  • Hawaiian – Hau oli la hanau!
  • Hebrew – Yom Huledet Same’ach!
  • Hiligaymon (Philippines) – Masadya gid nga adlaw sa imo pagkatawo!
  • Hindi – Janam Din Ki Badhai
  • Hungarian – Boldog szuletes napot
  • Icelandic – Til hamingju med afmaelisdaginn!
  • India – Sal Girah Mubarak
  • Indonesian – Selamat Ulang Tahun!
  • Irish – gaelic – La-briethe mhaith agat! or Briethla Shona Dhuit!
  • Israel – Yom Holedet Sameach
  • Italian – Buon compleanno! or Bun Cumpleani!
  • Japanese – Otanjyobi omedeto Gozaimasu!
  • Javaans-Indonesia – Slamet Ulang Tuanmoe!
  • Korean – Saeng il chuk ha ham ni da!
  • Latin – Fortuna dies natalis!
  • Latvian – Daudz laimes dzimsanas diena!
  • Lithuanian – Sveikinu su gimtadieniu! or Geriausi linkejimai gimtadienio proga!
  • Macedonian – Sreken roden den!
  • Malaysian – Selamat Hari Jadi!
  • Maltese – Nifrahlek ghal gheluq sninek!
  • Maori – Kia Huritau ki A Koe
  • Mexico – Feliz Cumpleanos
  • Mongolian – Torson odriin mend hurgee!
  • Native American – Haptee Hocuenera Hinigiren
  • The Netherlands – Van Harte Gefeliciteerd or
    Hjertelig til lykke medfodselsdagen
  • Nigeria – Eku ojobi
  • Norway – Gratulere Med Daged
  • Persian – Tavalodet Mobarak!
  • Peru – Feliz Cumpleanos
  • Polish – Wszystkiego Najlepszego! or Wszystkiego najlepszego z okazji urodzin!
  • Portuguese (Brazil) – Parabens pelo seu aniversario!
  • Portuguese – Felix Aniversrio! or Parabens!
  • Quebec – Bonne Fete <french)
  • Romanian – La Multi Ani!
  • Russia – s’dnom roshedenea or Sdnyom rozhdenya
  • Samoan – Manuia lou aso fanau!
  • Serbian – Srecan Rodjendan!
  • Spanish – Feliz cumpleanos
  • Sri Lankan – Suba Upan dinayak vewa!
  • Sudan – Aid Milad Jamil
  • Swedish – Grattis pa fodelsedagen!
  • Taiwanese – San leaz quiet lo!
  • Thai – Suk San Wan Keut
  • Turkish – Dogum gunun kutlu olsun!
  • Ukranian – Mnohiya lita! or Z D dnem naradjennia!
  • Venezuela – Hoy Es Tu Dia
  • Vietnamese – Chuc Mung Sinh Nhat!
  • Welsh – Penblwydd hapus
  • Yiddish – A Freilekhn Gebortstog!