Happy Birthday Roberteaux!


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Feb 27, 2009
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Happy Birthday to my dear friend Rob!

Thank You for putting up with us rowdy lot, hopefully today everyone will be on their best behavior:fingersx:

Hope you have a great day, wish I was there to celebrate with you.
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Happy birthday Rob.


Have you ever wondered where the celebration of birthdays started? In the simplest of terms, it’s a time for friends and family to come together and celebrate you, the anniversary of your birth, and another year of your life under your belt.

But there’s so much more to it than that.

It’s been constantly evolving throughout, turning into what we know it to be today. This widely used tradition started somewhere and that’s what we are looking to uncover here today.

We’ve pieced together the hypotheses of several historians, making this one huge piece of our culture a little bit more comprehensible.

Here’s what we know:

1. Birthdays didn’t begin until calendars were created.
Early civilizations had no way to keep track of time other than by using the moon, sun, or some other important event. This made it difficult for them to pay attention to the anniversary of a person’s birth.

As time went on, everyone realized that they all experienced the effects of aging, they just didn’t have a means to mark a special milestone for it.

It wasn’t until ancient people began taking note of the moon’s cycles that they began paying attention to the change in seasons as well. They also noticed this pattern repeated itself over and over again. They began marking these changes in time.

This is what bore the first calendars, which marked time changes and other special days. From this type of tracking system came the ability to celebrate birthdays and other significant events and anniversaries each year.

2. It all started with the Egyptians.
Scholars who study the Bible say that the earliest mention of a birthday was around 3,000 B.C.E. and was in reference to a Pharaoh’s birthday. But further study implies that this was not their birth into the world, but their “birth” as a god.

When Egyptian pharaohs were crowned in ancient Egypt, they were considered to have transformed into gods. This was a moment in their lives that became more important than even their physical birth.

Pagans, such as the ancient Greeks, believed that each person had a spirit that was present on the day of his or her birth. This spirit kept watch and had a mystic relation with the god on whose birthday that particular individual was born.

3. You can thank Greeks for all those birthday candles.
Gods and goddesses were a huge part of Greek culture. Greeks offered many tributes and sacrifices to appease these gods. The lunar goddess, Artemis, was no different.

As a tribute to her, the Greeks would offer up moon-shaped cakes adorned with lit candles to recreate the glowing radiance of the moon and Artemis’ perceived beauty. The candles also symbolized the sending of a signal or prayer. Blowing out the candles with a wish is another way of sending that message to the gods.

4. Birthdays first started as a form of protection.
It is assumed that the Greeks adopted the Egyptian tradition of celebrating the “birth” of a god. They, like many other pagan cultures, thought that days of major change, such as these “birth” days, welcomed evil spirits. They lit candles in response to these spirits almost as if they represented a light in the darkness. This implies that birthday celebrations started as a form of protection.

In addition to candles, friends and family would gather around the birthday person and protect them from harm with good cheers, thoughts, and wishes. They would give gifts to bring even more good cheer that would ward off evil spirits. Noisemakers were also used to scare away the unwanted evil.

5. The ancient Romans were the first to celebrate the birth of the common “man.”
This seems to be the first time in history where a civilization celebrated the birth of non-religious figures. Regular Roman citizens would celebrate the birthdays of their friends and family members. The government, however, created public holidays in honor of more famous citizens.

Any Roman turning 50 years old would receive a special cake baked with wheat flour, olive oil, grated cheese, and honey. But an important thing to note is that only men would experience this birthday celebration. Female birthdays were not celebrated until about the 12th century.

6. Birthdays were first considered to be a pagan ritual in Christian culture.
In Christianity, it is believed that all people are born with “original sin.” That, in combination with early birthdays being tied to pagan gods, led Christians to consider birthdays to be celebrations of evil. This lasted for the first few hundred years of the existence of the Christian Church.

It wasn’t until the 4th century that Christians abandoned that way of thinking and began celebrating the birth of Jesus, also know as Christmas. Celebrating the birth of Jesus was partly enacted to recruit those who already celebrated Saturnalia, the Roman holiday.

7. German bakers invented the birthday cake as we know it today.
At this point, birthdays had been celebrated around the world, even in China, where a child’s first birthday was more special than most.

Kinderfeste, which started in the late 18th century, was the name for a German birthday party that is closest to today’s style of parties. This party was held for German kids, or “kinder,” and featured a birthday cake adorned with candles.

Kids were given one candle atop the cake for each year they had been alive, plus one for the hope of living for at least one more year. Blowing out these candles while making a wish was a big part of these celebrations.

8. The Industrial Revolution made a way for everyone to enjoy sugary cakes.
Sugary cakes were a birthday commodity only wealthy people had access to for quite some time. This was because the ingredients these sugary treats required were considered to be a luxury.

Then, the time in our history known as the Industrial Revolution allowed birthday celebrations in all cultures to proliferate. The required ingredients became more widely available. This, in combination with advances in mass production, allowed bakeries the option of offering customers pre-made cakes at lower prices.

9. The tune of “Happy Birthday” was actually a remix of sorts.
Two sisters, Patty Hill and Mildred J. Hill, who happened to both be Kentucky school teachers wrote a song called “Good Morning To All” in 1893 that was published in a book for other school teachers. The original intent of this song was to be sung in class by students before starting the day.

Of course, when anything catches on, there are variations that are made. This song is no different. Robert Coleman published a songbook in 1924 that featured this song with a few extra lyrics that quickly came to overshadow the original lyrics. These new lyrics to that popular old tune became what we know as “The Birthday Song” today.

In 1933, this new version was used in an Irving Berlin musical. One of the founding Hill sisters sued on the grounds that they held the copyright to the tune. They won the case and the copyright still holds to this day. Some even believe this song is under copyright until the year 2030. Copyright proceeds are split with the copyright owner and the Hill’s estate, estimated at around $2 million a year.


and just for you Rob, a few BONUS birthday fun facts:

10. Marie Antoinette should not be credited for the quote “Let them eat cake.”
This is a quote many people today attribute to Marie Antoinette, but it wasn’t until 50 years after her death that French critic and journalist, Alphonse Karr claimed that it started with her.

Despite these sourced rumors, this phrase actually had its first appearance in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s autobiography called “The Confessions.” The book describes Rousseau’s fear of entering a bakery due to his improper dress.

The book leads up to this famous quote like this, “Finally I recalled the stopgap solution of a great princess who was told that the peasants had no bread, and who responded: ‘Let them eat brioche.’”

At the time this book was written, Antoinette was just a little girl. It is theorized by some that she read Rousseau’s book and was quoting it, but others, like Antoinette biographer Lady Antonia Fraser, disapprove of this theory.

It was taken offensively, as if Antoinette meant it as an insult to the lower class citizens, but Fraser knew that kind of callousness and ignorance wasn’t Antoinette’s style.

11. October 5 is the most common birth date in the U.S.
If you think about it, this makes perfect sense. Nine months before October 5 is New Year’s Eve, a pretty common conception date.

On another note, May 22 is considered to be the least common birthday in the U.S.

12. The lack of history on early birthday celebrations may be due to a lack of wealth.
There is a theory that the nobles were the only people who could afford to have birthday celebrations. Anyone other than these nobles were not likely to have been written about, and thus, remembered. So it could be that many birthday celebrations were had and there was no one to document them.

It is believed by many historians that this “nobility only” result could be the reason behind the custom of wearing a birthday “crown.”

A Timeless Tradition

Today, it’s hard to imagine that our beloved birthday traditions were not always around. But it all had to begin somewhere.

The cake, the candles, the presents, and the song all evolved over time to collectively create what we know as a birthday celebration. It is almost as if thousands and thousands of years of people and cultures all decided to play a huge game of “Telephone” right up until present day.

It’s interesting to think about how this contemporary version of a birthday celebration we have today will change and evolve over the next several hundred years.

Now that’s food for thought.


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Happy Birthday Rob! @Howard2k beat me to the trademark @Roberteaux short post, but here's a couple more lines for you.

A birthday is the anniversary of the birth of a person, or figuratively of an institution. Birthdays of people are celebrated in numerous cultures, often with birthday gifts, birthday cards, a birthday party, or a rite of passage.

Many religions celebrate the birth of their founders or religious figures with special holidays (e.g. Christmas, Mawlid, Buddha's Birthday, and Krishna Janmashtami).

There is a distinction between birthday and birthdate: The former, other than February 29, occurs each year (e.g., January 15), while the latter is the exact date a person was born (e.g., January 15, 2001).

Legal conventions
In most legal systems, one becomes designated as an adult on a particular birthday (usually between 12 and 21), and reaching age-specific milestones confers particular rights and responsibilities. At certain ages, one may become eligible to leave full-time education, become subject to military conscription or to enlist in the military, to consent to sexual intercourse, to marry with parental consent, to marry without parental consent, to vote, to run for elected office, to legally purchase (or consume) alcohol and tobacco products, to purchase lottery tickets, or to obtain a driver's licence. The age of majority is the age when minors cease to legally be considered children and assume control over their persons, actions, and decisions, thereby terminating the legal control and legal responsibilities of their parents or guardians over and for them. Most countries set the age of majority at 18, though it varies by jurisdiction.

A one-year-old girl playing with her birthday balloons in Bangladesh
Cultural conventions
Many cultures have one or more coming of age birthdays:

A 90th birthday celebration at home
  • In Canada and the United States, families often mark a girl's 16th birthday with a "sweet sixteen" celebration – often represented in popular culture.
  • In some Hispanic countries, as well as in Portuguese-speaking Brazil, the quinceañera (Spanish) or festa de quinze anos(Portuguese) celebration traditionally marks a girl's 15th birthday.[1]
  • In Nepal and India, on a child's first birthday, their head is shaved while being held by a special fire. Removal of the hair is believed to cleanse the child of any evil in past lives, and symbolizes a renewal of the soul.[2] Hindu male children of some castes, like Brahmins, have the 12th or 13th birthday replaced with a grand "thread ceremony". The child takes a blessed thread and wears it, symbolizing his coming of age. This is called the Upanayana.[3]
  • In the Philippines, a coming-of-age party called a debut is held for girls on their 18th birthday, and for boys on their 21st birthday.
  • In some Asian countries that follow the zodiac calendar, there is a tradition of celebrating the 60th birthday.
  • In Korea, many celebrate a traditional ceremony of Baek-il (Feast for the 100th day) and Doljanchi (child's first birthday).
  • In Japan there is a Coming of Age Day, for all of those who have turned 20 years of age.
  • In British Commonwealth nations cards from the Royal Family are sent to those celebrating their 100th and 105th birthday and every year thereafter.[4]
  • In Ghana, on their birthday, children wake up to a special treat called "oto" which is a patty made from mashed sweet potato and eggs fried in palm oil. Later they have a birthday party where they usually eat stew and rice and a dish known as "kelewele", which is fried plantain chunks.[citation needed]
  • Jewish boys have a bar mitzvah on their 13th birthday. Jewish girls have a bat mitzvah on their 12th birthday, or sometimes on their 13th birthday in Reform and Conservative Judaism. This marks the transition where they become obligated in commandments of which they were previously exempted and are counted as part of the community.[5]
The birthdays of historically significant people, such as national heroes or founders, are often commemorated by an official holiday marking the anniversary of their birth.

  • Catholic saints are remembered by a liturgical feast on the anniversary of their "birth" into heaven a.k.a. their day of death. The ancient Romans marked the anniversary of a temple dedication or other founding event as a dies natalis, a term still sometimes applied to the anniversary of an institution (such as a university).
An individual's Beddian birthday, named in tribute to firefighter Bobby Beddia,[6] occurs during the year that their age matches the last two digits of the year they were born.[7]

In many cultures and jurisdictions, if a person's real birthday is not known (for example, if they are an orphan), then their birthday may be adopted or assigned to a specific day of the year, such as January 1.[8] The birthday of Jesus is celebrated at Christmas. Racehorses are reckoned to become one year old in the year following their birth on the first of January in the Northern Hemisphere and the first of August in the Southern Hemisphere.


Child with Snow White cake, circa 1910–1940.

A Korean child's birthday party at home



A voicemail from a child wishing his mother a happy birthday
In many parts of the world[vague] an individual's birthday is celebrated by a party where a specially made cake, usually decorated with lettering and the person's age, is presented. The cake is traditionally studded with the same number of lit candles as the age of the individual, or a number candle representing their age. The celebrated individual will usually make a silent wish and attempt to blow out the candles in one breath; if successful, a tradition holds that the wish will be granted. In many cultures, the wish must be kept secret or it won't "come true". Presents are bestowed on the individual by the guests appropriate to their age. Other birthday activities may include entertainment (sometimes by a hired professional, i.e. a clown, magician, or musician), and a special toast or speech by the birthday celebrant. The last stanza of Patty Hill's and Mildred Hill's famous song, "Good Morning to You" (unofficially titled "Happy Birthday to You") is typically sung by the guests at some point in the proceedings. In some countries a piñata takes the place of a cake.

Name days
Main article: Name day
In some historically Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox countries such as Italy, Spain, France, parts of Germany, Poland, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Greece, Lithuania, Latvia, and throughout Latin America, it is common to have a 'name day'/'Saint's day'. It is celebrated in much the same way as a birthday, but it is held on the official day of a saint with the same Christian name as the birthday person; the difference being that one may look up a person's name day in a calendar, or easily remember common name days (for example, John or Mary); however in pious traditions, the two were often made to concur by giving a newborn the name of a saint celebrated on its birthday, or possibly the name of a feast, for example, Noel or Pascal (French for Christmas and "of Easter"); as another example, Togliatti was given Palmiro as his first name because he was born on Palm Sunday.

Official birthdays

Colored lanterns at the Lotus Lantern Festival in Seoul, South Korea, celebrating the anniversary of the Buddha's birthday
Some notables, particularly monarchs, have an official birthday on a fixed day of the year, which may not necessarily match the day of their birth, but on which celebrations are held. Examples are:

  • Jesus Christ's traditional birthday is celebrated as Christmas Eve or Christmas Day around the world, on December 24 or 25, respectively. As some Eastern churches use the Julian calendar, December 25 will fall on January 7 in the Gregorian calendar. These dates are traditional and have no connection with the actual birthday date of Jesus, which is not recorded in the Gospels
  • Similarly, the birthdays of the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist are liturgically celebrated on September 8 and June 24, especially in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions (although for those Eastern Orthodox churches using the Julian calendar the corresponding Gregorian dates are September 21 and July 7 respectively). As with Christmas, the dates of these celebrations are traditional and probably have no connection with the actual birthdays of these individuals.
  • The Queen's Official Birthday in Australia, Fiji, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
  • The Grand Duke's Official Birthday in Luxembourg is typically celebrated on June 23. This is different from the monarch's actual date of birth, which is on April 16.
  • Koninginnedag in the Kingdom of the Netherlands was typically celebrated on April 30. Queen Beatrix fixed it at the birthday of her mother, the previous queen, to avoid the winter weather associated with her own birthday in January. The present monarch's birthday is 27 April, and is also celebrated on that day and has replaced the 30th of April celebration of Koninginnedag.
  • The previous Japanese Emperor Showa (Hirohito)'s birthday was April 29. After his death, the holiday was kept as "Showa no Hi", or "Showa Day". This holiday falls close to Golden Week, the week in late April and early May.
  • Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-Il's birthdays are celebrated in North Korea as a national holiday.
  • Washington's Birthday, commonly referred to as Presidents' Day, is a federal holiday in the United States that celebrates the birthday of George Washington. President Washington's birthday is observed on the third Monday of February each year. However, his actual birth date was either February 11 (Old Style), or February 22 (New Style).
  • In India, every year October 2 which marks the Birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, is declared as a holiday. All the liquor shops are closed across the country in honour of Gandhi not consuming liquor.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a federal holiday in the United States marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around the time of King's birthday, January 15.
  • Mawlid is the official birthday of Muhammad and is celebrated on the 12th or 17th day of Rabi' al-awwal by adherents of Sunni and Shia Islam respectively. These are the two most commonly accepted dates of birth of Muhammad.
Distribution through the year

Interactive heat map
of the birth ratio of each day of the year to the average in the USA, and England and Wales

A birthday cake for an 18th birthday

Some restaurants place a birthday candle on the dessert of a birthday customer's choice

A young child preparing to extinguish the candle of his first birthday – 1983
Globe icon.
The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and New Zealand and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. You may improve this article, discuss the issue on the talk page, or create a new article, as appropriate.(February 2020) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
According to a public database of births, birthdays in the United States are quite evenly distributed for the most part, but there tend to be more births in September and October.[9] This may be because there is a holiday season nine months before (the human gestation period is about nine months), or because the longest nights of the year also occur in the Northern Hemisphere nine months before. However, it appears the holidays have more of an effect on birth rates than the winter: New Zealand, a Southern Hemisphere country, has the same September and October peak with no corresponding peak in March and April.[10] The least common birthdays tend to fall around public holidays, such as Christmas, New Year's Day and fixed-date holidays such as July 4 in the US.

Based on Harvard University research of birth records in the United States between 1973 and 1999, September 16 is the most common birthday in the United States and December 25 the least common birthday (other than February 29, because of leap years).[11] In 2011, October 5 and 6 were reported as the most frequently occurring birthdays.[12]

In New Zealand, the most common birthday is September 29, and the least common birthday is December 25. The ten most common birthdays all fall within a thirteen-day period, between September 22 and October 4. The ten least common birthdays (other than February 29) are December 24–27, January 1–2, February 6, March 22, April 1 and April 25. This is based on all live births registered in New Zealand between 1980 and 2017.[10]

According to a study by the Yale School of Public Health, positive and negative associations with culturally significant dates may influence birth rates. The study shows a 5.3% decrease in spontaneous births and a 16.9% decrease in Caesarean births on Halloween, compared to dates occurring within one week before and one week after the October holiday. In contrast, on Valentine's Day there is a 3.6% increase in spontaneous births and a 12.1% increase in Caesarean births.[13]

Leap day
In the Gregorian calendar (a common solar calendar), February in a leap year has 29 days instead of the usual 28, so the year lasts 366 days instead of the usual 365.

A person born on February 29 may be called a "leapling" or a "leaper".[14] In common years they usually celebrate their birthdays on February 28. In some situations, March 1 is used as the birthday in a non-leap year since it is the day following February 28.

Technically, a leapling will have fewer birthday anniversaries than their age in years. This phenomenon is exploited when a person claims to be only a quarter of their actual age, by counting their leap-year birthday anniversaries only. In Gilbert and Sullivan's 1879 comic opera The Pirates of Penzance, Frederic the pirate apprentice discovers that he is bound to serve the pirates until his 21st birthday rather than until his 21st year.

For legal purposes, legal birthdays depend on how local laws count time intervals.

By religion
Buddhism (Mahayana)
Main article: Buddha's birthday
Many monasteries celebrate the anniversary of Buddha's birth, usually in a highly formal, ritualized manner. They treat Buddha's statue as if it was Buddha himself, as if he were alive; bathing, and "feeding" him.[15]

Early centuries
Origen in his commentary "On Levites" writes that Christians should not only refrain from celebrating their birthdays, but should look on them with disgust.[16]

Ordinary folk celebrated their saint's day (the saint they were named after), but nobility celebrated the anniversary of their birth.[citation needed] The "Squire's Tale", one of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, opens as King Cambuskan proclaims a feast to celebrate his birthday.[17]

While almost all Christians accept the practice today, Jehovah's Witnesses and some Sacred Name groups refrain from celebrating birthdays due to the custom's pagan origins, its connections to magic and superstitions. While Christmas is the celebration of Christ's Birth, some religious groups see it as being portrayed in a negative light.[18][19][20]

Orthodox Christianity in addition to birthdays, also celebrate the name day of a person.

Hindus celebrate the birth anniversary day every year when the day that corresponds to lunar month or solar month (Sun Signs Nirayana System – Sourava Mana Masa) of birth and has the same asterism (Star/Nakshatra) as that of the date of birth. That age is reckoned whenever Janma Nakshatra of the same month passes.

Hindus regard death to be more auspicious than birth since the person is liberated from the bondages of material society. Also, traditionally, rituals & prayers for the departed are observed on 5th and 11th day with many relatives gathering.

Some Muslim especially from Salafi school of thought[21] oppose the celebration of a birthday as a sin, as it is considered an "innovation" of the faith, or bi'dah while other clerics have issued statements saying that the celebration of a birthday is permissible.[22][23]

Some Muslims migrating to the United States adopt the custom of celebrating birthdays, especially for children, but others resist.[24]

There is also a great deal of controversy regarding celebrating Mawlid (the anniversary of the birth of Muhammad). While a section of Islam strongly favours it,[25] others decry such celebrations, terming them as out of the scope of Islam.[26]

In Judaism, the perspective on birthday celebrations is disputed by various rabbis, although today it is accepted practice by most of the faithful.[27] In the Hebrew Bible, the one single mention of a celebration being held in commemoration of someone's day of birth is for the Egyptian Pharaoh which is recorded in Genesis 40:20.[28] Rabbi Moshe Feinstein always acknowledged birthdays.[29] The Lubavitcher Rebbe encouraged people to celebrate their birthdays, by gathering friends, making positive resolutions, and through various religious observances.[30] According to Rabbi Yissocher Frand, the anniversary of a person's birth is a special day for that person's prayers to be accepted.[31]

The bar mitzvah of 13-year-old Jewish boys, or bat mitzvah for 12-year-old Jewish girls, is perhaps the only Jewish celebration undertaken in what is often perceived to be in coalition with a birthday. Despite modern celebrations where the secular "birthday" element often overshadows the essence of it as a religious rite, the essence of a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah celebration is entirely religious in origin (i.e. the attainment of religious maturity according to Jewish law), however, and not secular. With or without the birthday celebration, the child nevertheless becomes a bar mitzvah or bat mitzvah, and the celebration may be on that day or any date after it.

Sikhs celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak.

By region
Ancient Persia
According to Herodotus (5th century BC), of all the days in the year, the one which the Persians celebrate most is their birthday. It was customary to have the board furnished on that day with an ampler supply than common: the richer people eat wholly baked cow, horse, camel, or donkey (Greek: ὄνον), while the poorer classes use instead the smaller kinds of cattle.[32][33]

Ancient Rome
The Romans enthusiastically celebrated birthdays with hedonistic parties and generous presents.[34]

See also: Chinese first birthday
Chinese birthday traditions reflect the culture's deep-seated focus on longevity and wordplay. From the homophony between ("rice wine") and (meaning "long" in the sense of time passing), osmanthus and other rice wines are traditional gifts for birthdays in China. Longevity noodles are another traditional food consumed on the day,[35]although western-style birthday cakes are increasingly common among urban Chinese.

The Japanese really started celebrating birthdays after WWII based on Western influences. Children's birthday parties are the most important, with a cake, candles, and singing. Adults will often just celebrate with their partner.

North Korea
In North Korea, people do not celebrate birthdays on July 8 and December 17 because these were the dates of the deaths of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, respectively. More than 100,000 North Koreans celebrate displaced birthdays on July 9 and December 18 to avoid these dates. A person born on July 8 before 1994 may change their birthday, with official recognition.[36] Kim Il-sung's birthday, Day of the Sun, is the most important public holiday of the country,[37] and Kim Jong-il's birthday is celebrated as Day of the Shining Star.[38]

South Korea
See also: Korean birthday celebrations and Korean first birthday celebration
The beginning of life is heavily celebrated in South Korea. A child's first birthday is a momentous occasion.

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