A smiling face is half the meal.

~ Latvian Proverb ~

Happy Birthday To You

June 4th, 2013 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 1 sec

Just what is this happy birthday tradition all about?

Just what is this happy birthday tradition all about?

What are the ingredients for a happy birthday? A cake with candles perhaps? Some presents, and streamers, maybe? And what about a party? Then again, that might not be necessary.

What is a happy birthday to you could well be a bizarre in other places. After all in Tasmania, where people enjoy their birthday fuss standing upside down, eating crackers, and drinking water whilst singing nursery rhymes any other way seems crazy (Actually that’s complete fiction…but it might be fun trying).

No, the real weirdness is in the whole happy birthday phenomena itself. Have you every wondered, for instance why everyone observes these ritualized behaviors? We take them for granted, don’t we? But their origins put an entirely different spin on such quaint little niceties.

Having a party on the day of your birth, along with people bringing presents, decorations, blowing out candles, and singing, are all activities steeped in pagan tradition. Way back when Europeans feared evil spirits being drawn to newborns, it was believed that doing these things would chase the bad spirits away (which puts a different twist on todays familiar rituals of singing and blowing out candles on the cake, doesn’t it?).

Happy birthday festivities were therefore much more than an excuse to kick your heels up, have a party, and celebrate the birth and life of someone you love. Whereas, today, we’ve pretty much thrown all the superstitions away and merely have a great day. Well… almost!

In Australia as in some other countries, it is bad luck to let the birthday cake knife touch the bottom of the plate (lest it causes you to have… wait for it… green babies). While it certainly wouldn’t do, not to blow out all of the candles and make a wish that you don’t say aloud now would it? Surely that all has to be “bad luck

So if you think you’ve had enough happy birthday parties and related celebrations, consider the meaning of what you’ve been doing all these years. After all, birthdays really are significant things, and people right round the world tend to make a bit of a fuss about the birthday person having made it thus far (well, mostly, as there are a few whose society and beliefs mean not much happens at all, which is sad).

Will you ever be too old, too fat, thin, or tall to celebrate and have a happy birthday occasion? No, not at all! We all need these milestones in our lives to remind us that there’s more to life than daily events. Plus, it’s wonderful to have fun your way and enjoy being a little bit royal for a day. It’s fun (And we all need to make room for the occasional day that’s playful, don’t we?).

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