Life should not only be lived; it should be celebrated.”Osho
Have you ever wondered how the tradition of celebrating birthdays came about? I have. So, I did a little digging and found some fascinating fun facts about the history of celebrating birthdays. And since my birthday is just a few days away, I am dedicating this article to all thing’s birthdays- the history of celebrating birthdays, how that tradition has evolved and the importance of celebrating these anniversaries and other important milestones.
From my research I learned that:
- Birthdays didn’t begin until calendars were created.
- Birthdays started with the Egyptians.
- The Greeks came up with the birthday candles.
- Birthdays first started as a form of protection.
- The ancient Romans were the first to celebrate the birth of the common “man.”
- Birthdays were first considered to be a pagan ritual in Christian culture.
- German bakers invented the birthday cake as we know it today.
- The Industrial Revolution made a way for everyone to enjoy sugary cakes.
- The tune of “Happy Birthday” was a remix of sorts.
- October 5 is the most common birth date in the U.S. (Nine months before October 5 is New Year’s Eve, a common conception date.)
To Celebrate or Not to Celebrate?
Regardless of the history, today, birthdays are a time of year when friends and families come together to celebrate the anniversary of a loved one’s birth and/or when an individual celebrates life and it’s many blessings. Birthdays also provide an opportunity for people to pause and reflect on their progress and growth and intentionally think about how they want to improve and what they want their future to look like. For some people, birthday are auspicious occasions filled with family and friends, gifts and treats, the best of music, food, fashion and all the best that life has to offer. While for others, birthdays go unacknowledged, without any distinction from any other day of the year.
But whether you choose to celebrate birthdays or not, there is no disputing that, birthdays mark significant life events and serve as important markers of life’s stages, changes and progression. According to Wikipedia, “In most legal systems, one becomes designated as an adult on a particular birthday (usually between 12 and 21) and reaching age-specific milestones confers particular rights and responsibilities.” While birthdays represent a coming of age, they also usher in fundamental rites of passage, new responsibilities and give access to certain activities such as the ability to get married, vote, consent to sex, purchase lottery tickets, drink legally and consume other controlled substances. And while this age can vary from country to country, the typical age is usually 18.
In addition to these obvious benefits, celebrating birthdays also provide some additional opportunities for you to:
- Express gratitude by being present and appreciating where you are in your journeys, all you have and all that you have accomplished.
- Celebrate you, the person you are and are becoming by practicing self-acceptance, self-respect, and self-regard.
- Focus on feel good and positive emotions which reduces stress, promotes happiness, and contributes to overall well-being.
- Practice self-love and self-care which honors your basic need to feel loved, affirmed and valued.
- Take stock of the ways you can continue to grow, the things you might need to change and how to move closer towards your goals and dreams.
How I Celebrate My Birthday
For me, birthdays are super special. And as I mentioned in a previous post, November is my favorite month of all. It is the month I celebrate my birthday, the month I relocated to the US, and come to think of it, it is the month I conceived my one and only child. That said, I take birthdays seriously, and really try to celebrate myself on my birthday and honor my friends and loved one on theirs. My intentionality around celebrating birthdays, probably stems from the fact that I never had birthday celebrations while growing up. So, I promised myself that I would always celebrate me, once I got to the age and stage where I could do something about it.
In fact, I remember that, during my college years, every birthday I would get dressed in my nicest outfit and go to the mall where I would treat myself to a movie and my dessert of choice (cheesecake back then). And once I started working, I also promised myself that I would never work on a birthday. The way I see it is, if you have paid leave, your birthday should be included in one of those days. Plus, I also plan all my summer vacations around my daughter’s birthday, so I never work on her birthday either. Another thing I decided a long time ago is that, I would not allow myself to get upset on my birthday and would only entertain positive people, vibes and feel-good emotions on my special day. Anything else will be handled the following day.
That said, ever since I moved to the U.S., one of my biggest pet peeves is that, my birthday frequently falls on the Thanksgiving Holiday. And because this is such a prominent holiday, my birthday tends to get overshadowed by people who wish me Happy Thanksgiving first, instead of Happy Birthday. I am so annoyed by this practice that, when I realized my 40th birthday would fall on Thanksgiving Day, I decided to leave the country, and go on a solo trip to Europe. And there I experienced one of my best birthdays, and spent 12 memorable days exploring London and Paris.
Although some people prefer big birthday parties and grand celebrations to mark the occasion and nice gifts (Nothing wrong with that), I prefer having an opportunity to experience something new, travel to a new country or destination, eat at an expensive restaurant or try something I’ve never done before. And I also use my birthday to reflect on the past year and assess how I am progressing physically, emotionally, financially, professionally, and spiritually and set new goals and intentions for my next 365 days around the sun.
So, what about you- what do birthdays mean to you? And how do you celebrate your birthdays? Share and let me know.
Until next time, Remember, ItsALearningLife!