Birthday - history of traditions, traditional celebrations 

traditions, History of birthday celebrations






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The celebration of the birthday is a relatively recent invention, there was a time when people did not take notice of the exact date of a birth. So could not celebrate an exact day even if they wanted to. Before that birthdays a person’s transition into adulthood was the defining moment.

The earliest of evidence of birthdays is pre-Christian. It is not known how common the celebration of birthdays was, since the only records that exist are about "important" people. What is fairly certain is that it was thought that on these auspicious moments of the year individuals were more vulnerable to attack from evil spirits. As a result they had "parties" – celebrations – intended to be very cheerful and drive away the evil spirits.


From this you can also see its spread into fairy stories where, as in Sleeping Beauty, a child is brought particularly happy gifts but then cursed to have something bad happen on her 16th birthday. (In fact this would be the equivalent of passing into womanhood so probably goes even further back.)

At first gifts were not brought, instead it would be "happy thoughts" from the well-wishers. After a time giving presents became typical, probably in order to influence the person in your favour.

The birthday tradition is celebrated in most parts of the world, although many less developed cultures still retain only the coming-of-age ceremony. Just as every culture is different their ways of celebrating birthdays is also different. In Western culture the existence of film and TV has tended to homogenise traditions through different cultures with US culture tending to prevail.

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