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Birthday

Birthday is the celabration of when someone it born.

A birthday, as the term implies, is the anniversary of the particular day on which a person was born. Though by no means universal, such occasions are celebrated in numerous cultures, often with a party or, in some instances, a rite of passage.

Though major religious traditions such as the Buddhist or the Christian celebrate the birth of their founders, the most obvious example of which is Christmas, principled opposition to the very idea of celebrating birthdays is to be found among certain religious groups.

Birthday Traditions

What are the origins of some of the customs used to celebrate birthdays?
Following are some secular publications and their comments of these origins.

The German periodical "Schwäbische Zeitung" (magazine supplement Zeit und Welt) of April 3/4, 1981 on page 4 stated: "The various customs with which people today celebrate their birthdays have a long history. Their origins lie in the realm of magic and religion. The customs of offering congratulations, presenting gifts and celebrating - complete with lighted candles - in ancient times were meant to protect the birthday celebrant from the demons and to ensure his security for the coming year. . . . Down to the fourth century Christianity rejected the birthday celebration as a pagan custom."

The book The Lore of Birthdays (New York, 1952) by Ralph and Adelin Linton, on pages 8, 18-20 had this to say: "The Greeks believed that everyone had a protective spirit or daemon who attended his birth and watched over him in life. This spirit had a mystic relation with the god on whose birthday the individual was born.

The Romans also subscribed to this idea. . . . This notion was carried down in human belief and is reflected in the guardian angel, the fairy godmother and the patron saint. . . . The custom of lighted candles on the cakes started with the Greeks. . . . Honey cakes round as the moon and lit with tapers were placed on the temple altars of [Artemis]. . . . Birthday candles, in folk belief, are endowed with special magic for granting wishes. . . . Lighted tapers and sacrificial fires have had a special mystic significance ever since man first set up altars to his gods. The birthday candles are thus an honor and tribute to the birthday child and bring good fortune"

This same book, on page 20, also had this to say about the traditional greeting of 'Happy Birthday': "Birthday greetings and wishes for happiness are an intrinsic part of this holiday. . . . originally the idea was rooted in magic. The working of spells for good and evil is the chief usage of witchcraft. One is especially susceptible to such spells on his birthday, as one's personal spirits are about at the time. . . . Birthday greetings have power for good or ill because one is closer to the spirit world on this day."

And Horst Fuhrmann, professor of medieval history at the University of Regensburg, made this comment about birthdays: "The birthday celebration was in honor of one's guardian angel or god, whose altar was decorated with flowers and wreaths; sacrifices were offered to the god of festival, friends offered congratulations and brought gifts." Furthermore, he stated in the German newspaper "Süddeutschen Zeitung": "Great prominence was given the birthday parties held for the emperor, replete with parades, public banquets, circus plays, and the hunting of animals: spectacles disgusting to the [early] Christians."

Celebrations

The birthday cake is traditionally highly decorated, and typically covered with lit candles when presented, the number of candles signifying the age of the celebrant. The person whose birthday it is may make a silent wish and then blow out the candles. After that, the person can open their presents. It is also common for the person celebrating their birthday to cut the initial piece of the cake as a newlywed couple might with a wedding cake.

Each item was associated with a prediction. For example, a person finding a gold coin in a birthday cake would supposedly become wealthy; a person discovering a thimble would never marry.

Sometimes special candles are substituted for the many individual candles in the shape of a numeral. For example, on the first birthday, there may be one candle on the cake in the shape of the numeral one, and on the tenth birthday there may be two candles on the cake, one in the shape of the numeral one followed by the other in the shape of the number zero.

In addition to parties, it is common for people to receive gifts on their birthdays or surprise parties. The popular gifts include toys, books, jewellery, clothes, flowers, technical devices, etc. However, sometimes it is expected of the person celebrating their birthday to treat their party guests instead; this varies depending on the local culture and may involve party gifts or other gestures, for example inviting to the restaurant or bar (some of them offer special birthday programs), arranging party at home, or at work.

In most English-speaking countries it is traditional to sing the song Happy Birthday to You to the honored person celebrating a birthday. Happy Birthday songs are common worldwide. Similar songs exist in other languages such as "Zhu ni sheng ri kuai le" in Mandarin Chinese, "Lang zal hij/zij leven" in Dutch, "Õnne soovime Sul" in Estonian, "Zum Geburtstag Viel Glück" in German, "Nα ζήσεις και χρόνια πολλά " in Greek, "Hayom Yom HUledet" in Hebrew, "Que los cumplas feliz" or "Feliz cumpleaños a ti" in Spanish, "Parabéns a você" in Portuguese, "Maligayang Bati" in Filipino, "Sto lat" in Polish, "Lá Breithe Shona Duit" in Irish, "multi ani traiasca" in Romanian, "Ja må du leva" or "Med en enkel tulipan" in Swedish, "Joyeux Anniversaire" or "Bonne Fête" in French, "Tanti Auguri a te" in Italian and "Iyi ki dogdun, Mutlu Yillar Sana" in Turkish.[citation needed]This song is a common greeting used on birthdays, along with greeting cards and verbal greetings with messages such as "I wish you a Happy Birthday" or "Happy Birthday."

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