De ce sarbatorim zilele de nastere?

If you're still going to spend a few thousand lei for a five-year-old's birthday party, maybe it wouldn't hurt to ask yourself: why do we celebrate birthdays, exactly? Where did this extravagant tradition begin?

In today's society, we keep track of birthdays and a large part of what a person can or cannot do is related to their age. For example, we go to school at the age of 6, we drink alcohol legally at the age of 18 and we can get our driver's license then, and at the age of 35 we can run for the presidency. But things were not always like that. Here is a brief history of why we celebrate birthdays.

The historical evolution of birthdays

The history of how birthdays probably evolved is fascinating. From the first documentary attestation of a birthday, more than 4000 years ago, to the balloons, pinatas and cake with which we celebrate today, history has gone through considerable changes.
In general, birthdays have evolved from festivities dedicated to religious personalities to the celebration of individuals. Here is how this evolution took place.

Ancient celebrations of gods and goddesses

One of the oldest birthday celebrations in recorded history took place in 3000 BC.
There is a biblical record of the birthday of an Egyptian pharaoh, on the occasion of which he organized a feast for all his officials. But because the pharaohs were considered mediators between gods and people, it is likely that this "birthday" was actually the date of his coronation.

Of course, it's about a party held only once, but it's a pretty strong indication that Egyptians have been celebrating birthdays ever since.
The annual parties can be traced back to the time of ancient Rome and ancient Greece. The Romans and Greeks used their calendars to organize annual festivals for their gods, occasions when they offered gifts and celebrated in honor of these deities.

Christianity and saints

Around the 4th century AD, the Romanians organized the Romanian holiday Saturnalia. The Saturnalia honored Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture and time and took place at the end of December. To celebrate, Romanians sang, socialized and gave each other gifts.

With the spread of Christianity, another great holiday spread, which meanwhile became the biggest celebration of Christianity - Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus. To this day, Christians celebrate the birthday of Jesus by giving gifts.
Christians, both Catholic and Orthodox, also celebrate name days, days of the year named after Christian saints. If you have a saint's name, you will celebrate your name day on the day when the respective saint is celebrated in the calendar. This is a very good example of more individualized holidays that people marked throughout the year.

Birthdays today

Throughout history, especially in the last thousand years, it was not unusual for the masters or the rich to celebrate their birthdays, even if the birthdays of common people and peasants were not as widespread a custom .
In America, for example, annual birthday parties, especially for children, began to be organized during the Industrialization period, around the mid-1800s.

Households had clocks and increasingly reliable ways of telling time, and time became more important for education and medicine. So we can say that when age became more important, birthday parties also became more common.
If we know how birthdays appeared and evolved, what can we say about everything that a birthday party means today?

The origins of birthday traditions

Why do parties these days include cake, candles and gifts? Well, these traditions were also borrowed from history and other cultures.


When the Greeks held festivals in which they honored their gods and goddesses, they made sacred cakes, which they offered as unburnt offerings. They also made sweet desserts for other religious holidays and private parties.
And since we can say that the tradition of birthday parties evolved from the ancient Greek festivals, it is easy to see that we have carried on the tradition of cakes, also inspired by these festivities.

Blowing candles

And this time we return to ancient Greece. One of the goddesses honored every year through a festival was Artemis, the Greek goddess of hunting. A common symbol for Artemis was the Moon, so that during the festivities dedicated to her, the Greeks brought offerings of cakes in a circular shape, lit by lighted candles, so that they would shine like the Moon.
We must also note the fact that many ancient cultures believed that smoke carried a person's prayers further. Therefore, we can associate this old custom with today's custom of blowing candles after making a wish.

Birthday parties for children

It is extremely popular today to organize birthday parties for children. We can even say without making a mistake that children's parties are more popular than any other. It is true that adults also have birthdays, but their large-scale parties are relatively rare, unless they reach a milestone or reach an important milestone in their lives.

Throughout history, however, birthday parties were something common for adults. Or at least that's what the documentary attestations tell us.
And then, where did the idea of ​​parties for children come from?
In Germany in the 1700s there was a tradition called Kinderfeste, according to which on the morning of a child's birthday, he received a cake with candles. Historically speaking, this appears to be one of the first examples of a child's birthday party.


You have certainly seen this habit of hitting a Pinata and then running after the surprises inside it at our parties. But you will be surprised to find out the origin of Pinata. Or maybe after all the above, you won't be so surprised anymore... Obviously, this time we are also going back to the ancient times, to the festivities that honored the gods.
A first theory regarding the origin of the Pinata involves the Aztec Empire. It seems that the Aztecs honored the birth of the god Huitzilopochtli by filling a vessel with treasures and breaking it at the feet of their idol.
Other experts say that the Pinata tradition actually started in China, where the empty heads of animals were filled with seeds and then broken. Marco Polo saw this custom and took it with him to Europe, from where it then reached America.

Birthday gifts

The habit of giving gifts could also, like most other traditions, derive from the ancient festivals, in which the Greeks and Romans offered objects and other offerings to their gods and goddesses.
But the giving of gifts could go back even further in time, to the beginnings of mankind, when gifts were offered as a universal symbol of affection and goodwill.
This is why, instinctively, we as a species give birthday gifts to friends, family and loved ones when they turn a year older.