by Lovina 🐕🦺
Verfabula: A Creative Nonfiction Contest Entry November 2020
|The origins of birthdays and birthday cakes are largely unknown. However, historians have been able to uncover a few tidbits.
According to historians the first birthdays were celebrated around 3,000 B.C.E. by Kings; Egyptian Pharaohs to be exact – celebrating the day of their coronation, not the day of their birth. Apparently, the day they were given power was more important to them than the day they were given life.
No one knows for sure but it is rumored the Ancient Romans were the first to celebrate the day of their birth, but only for the males. The more important men were honored by having their birthdays’ turned into holidays. And men celebrating their fiftieth birthday would get a cake made of wheat flour, honey, olive oil, and cheese. They did not deign to celebrate the birth of females until the 12th century.
Around the 4th century Christians started celebrating the birth of Jesus. They chose the end of December for this celebration in order to compete with the Pagan holiday of Saturnalia.
The Chinese were next to celebrate birthdays, but only when a child reached his first one. At that time, they suffered such a high mortality rate among children, surviving your first year was a major accomplishment.
The Germans invented birthday cakes, complete with candles, for Kinderfeste. Dating from the late 18th century, Kinderfeste is being hailed as the first for celebrating children’s birthdays with a party. This birthday celebration of German children included a cake with as many candles as they were old plus one extra for good luck. They even made a wish while blowing out the candles.
In the days of old birthday cakes were only for the wealthy because the ingredients were too expensive. With the industrial age in the late 19th century prices came down and pre-made birthday cakes were offered at reasonable prices.
Now birthdays are celebrated by almost everyone; every religion, culture, and station. Some are even known to commandeer a week or even an entire month for festivities in their honor.