|The most basic human emotions and their expressions can well be described in a single word - "timeless". It can well be applied for birthday celebrations. Human nature has an innate desire for personal attention and celebration, both of which are fulfilled by the observation of birthdays. This is well observed when the average person throws a birthday party and at once finds himself to be the centre of attraction and a reason for unrestrained jubilation.
The exact origin of birthday celebrations is unknown. Mention of birthdays of royal persons such as kings and Pharaohs and popular men or women can be found in old books or scriptures which leads us to believe that celebration of natal days had been in practice even in the ancient days. Instances of observation of birthdays can even be found in the Old Testament which mentions about the birthdays of the sons of Job, a Jewish hero who maintained his faith in God in spite of afflictions that tested him.
"Every year when Job's sons had birthdays..."
~ Job 1:4.
It is however, believed, that the observance of birthdays began with the altered manner of keeping time. In the olden days, people used to keep track of time through the changing movements of the sun or the moon or by some important event that happened at regular intervals such as the passage of a comet. It was only when calendars were formulated in respect of lunar or solar positions did it become possible to mark time changes and other special days. This also made possible the celebration of birthdays and other anniversaries every year on the same day.
It is believed that birthdays actually started with the pagan people, who had a great fear of occult powers and held them reponsible for major calamities in human life. They thought that all living people were susceptible to evil spirits and there were greater chances of this when they experienced a change in their daily life, such as a birthday that adds one more year to the life of a person. They felt that surrounding a birthday person with laughter and joy shielded him/her from harmful possibilities and served to ward off evil spirits.
So far as historical records are concerned, all possible evidences suggest that the celebration of birthdays started and continued only among the nobility who were well positioned to afford lavish observances. According to some historians, the wearing of "Birthday Crown"s by birthday persons is indicative of the original regal association of birthdays. There is an absence of any proof that hints even remotely of a birthday celebration of an adult or even a child belonging to the common class of the society.
It is the Germans who are accredited as the pioneers of birthday celebrations, especially of children. The German word for "birthday" is known as "kinderfeste", a term derived from two German words 'kinder' meaning children and 'feste' meaning festival or party. Gradually, the tradition found its way into Christianity which, despite its initial abhorrence of the custom accepted it at last. Even then, some Christian communities do not celebrate birthdays to this day. Similar detestation can be seen in other religions like Judaism.
However, birthday celebrations are highly popular in the modern world and our birthdays are one of the most highly anticipated annual events for most of us, whatever our age. It is a time when our friends, family members and loved ones shower on us their good wishes and gifts and help us to give a perfect start to another year of our lives.
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