Why do we celebrate birthdays?

With both Buddy and Stepson #2 having approaching birthdays and preparations well under way for a swimming pool party and cake designs, I turn my thoughts to why we celebrate birthdays.

I’ve never been big on birthday celebrations, particularly my own, but being an equal opportunities grump I do extend this to other peoples.

Wait a minute. That paints me in a rather miserable, grumpy light. It’s not the celebrating I don’t like. (I’ve been known to splurge on a birthday gift or two. As well as attend the odd birthday bash!) 

Stepson #1 13th Birthday Cake

I just don’t get the point! Why are we celebrating the fact we stayed alive for another year? 

I realise modern life is stressful, mental health problems are on the increase. Medical science has extended the average life expectancy by decades not just a few years, but we’ve been celebrating birthdays for centuries.

The early origins are purportedly from Ancient Egyptian times. Where the date the Pharaoh took the throne would be celebrated as his “birth” as a god.

Many years later, around the 4th century, Christians began celebrating Christmas as Jesus birthday. Possibly just a ruse to gain more pagan followers as they already had their own festival on this date.

Over time cakes, candles etc were all added. It’s believed the Greeks added the cake and candles as they used to celebrate Artemis (the moon god) with moon shaped cakes and candles.

The origins I suppose are less important, as the world has moved on. 

Even as a parent, even though I do celebrate my children’s birthdays I do still wonder what is the point?

Is it now just an excuse for a bit of a bash and a party? Even the significant ones 18 and 21 arent as significant. In times gone by these were the ages that a boy became a man. Obviously long before womens lib and equality.

All the major religions have their own rites of passage to adulthood. Barmitzvah for a Jewish boy, Confirmation for a Christian etc.

Perhaps birthdays are and were just an excuse to gather friends and family round and celebrate or show off.

What are your feelings on birthdays? Is it an occasion to be celebrated? Or are you like me and just do it so the kids don’t feel left out?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *