It can be a big party, a simpler meeting with family members, a ceremony, a banquet or a religious ritual. Although birthday traditions are similar in some countries, not everyone celebrates in the same way. Eating brigadeiros, cake and many snacks on birthday, celebrated once a year, in some places they are celebrated for 9 days in a row; in others they are celebrated collectively during the Lunar New Year and there are still places where people don’t even remember the date they were born.
But when did the custom of celebrating birthdays come about? Anthropologists say in their book The Lore of Birthdays that birthdays are celebrated since Ancient Egypt, that is, around 3000 BC. At that time, the celebrations were held only for the pharaohs and gods, but with time the habit spread to the Romans, who began to grant this privilege to the emperor, his family and the senators.
That is, pagan rituals and magical beliefs gave rise to most of the customs of birthday celebrations. Because of this, in the early days of Christianity, the tradition was abolished and only in the fourth century A.D., when the Church began to celebrate the birth of Christ with the convention on December 25, which resurrected the habit of celebrating anniversaries.
Already at the beginning of the 19th century, the anniversary began to gain the forms and symbolic pieces that we see today, such as the cake, the candle, the invitation, among others.
But here is an addendum: the cake and the candles were inherited from the Greeks. They feasted on the goddess Artemis and put candles on a pie, symbolizing the full moon, which, according to mythology, was the way the goddess expressed herself. In the Middle Ages, for unknown reasons, the Germans resumed the habit of children’s parties.
Birthdays around the world
Every year, all the 7.5 billion people in the world celebrate their birthday, but as we said at the beginning, not all of them celebrate it in the same way. Cakes, sweets and balloons are typical decorations of annual parties in the West. In the East, the celebrations are quite different. In China, for example, some birthdays are omitted because they are considered years of bad luck. In South Korea, all children are already born with one year old.
Check out some birthday traditions around the world:
In Japan, birthdays are not celebrated as often as in America. The Japanese traditionally celebrate a person who gets one year older on New Year’s Day. Instead of an official party, young children participate in the 7-5-3 celebration, which takes place on November 15 and is called Shichi-go-san. When a boy reaches the age of five or a girl reaches the age of three and seven, the child puts on his best clothes and goes to the sanctuary to give thanks for his health.
Mundun is a Hindu ceremony held on a child’s first or third birthday. According to religion, shaving the hair removes any negativity brought from a past life, cleanses the inner being of the child, protecting it from all evil. After the hair is removed, the head is washed in holy water and a mixture of turmeric and sandalwood is rubbed on the child’s head to cure any cut.
The boys of the Masai Tribe, located in Kenya, must complete three rites of passage, starting around 14 to 16 years old, when they enter adulthood. One of the elements that celebrate the arrival of a boy to maturity is the ‘Jump Dance’. Until a certain time, it was a tradition for girls to undergo a similar ceremony involving female circumcision, but this was prohibited and alternatives sought by groups of humanities.
In Egypt, there is a party called hafla, in which family and friends are invited and there is much singing and dancing. Flowers and fruits are the main decorations of the party because they are considered symbols of life and growth. The Egyptians usually have a birthday cake.
Generally, birthday parties in Australia are decorated with many balloons and serpentines. Children eat a special dish called “Fairy Bread”, a bread covered with butter and very grainy colored, known as “hundreds and thousands”.
As in many countries, the anniversary in Ireland is celebrated with a gathering of family and friends with traditional Irish food, drink, singing and dance.
An Irish tradition (quite unusual, by the way) is to turn the child upside down and gently bang his head on the ground every year, and the birthday boy still gets an extra bump for good luck. For those who reach the age of majority, (21 in Ireland), the “key to the house” is provided, representing that the person is already an adult.
Birthdays in Norway are celebrated with many gifts, songs and, of course, cakes (usually chocolate, or fruit and cream flavored) and seafood and fresh fruit. If a child’s birthday occurs during the school year, he or she also receives a special tribute during class. There, the “Happy Birthday” is called Hurra for Deg.
Mexican birthday parties are a lot of fun. The famous piñata is guaranteed presence in the celebrations. Made of papier mâché, the piñata is filled with candy and hung at a height of about two meters and the birthday boy must, blindfolded, hit it with a wooden bat until it breaks in a candy explosion.
In Brazil the party is complete, being the table of sweets a separate issue: many delicacies, the traditional brigadeiros and kisses, and of course the most important of all, the cake. Generally, the birthday person gives the first slice of the birthday cake to a very special person. At the age of 15, the girls win a party and dance the waltz with their father or grandfather. And of course, we have to recognize that we give a show when the subject is party decoration, from north to south of the country.