What is a Birthday Party?

Kid's Birthday Partiesbirth·day

Function: noun
1 a : the day of a person’s birth  b : a day of origin
2 : an anniversary of a birth

How Birthday Parties Started

The tradition of birthday parties started in Europe a long time ago. It was feared that evil spirits were particularly attracted to people on their birthdays. To protect them from harm, friends and family would to come be with the birthday person and bring good thoughts and wishes. Giving gifts brought even more good cheer to ward off the evil spirits. This is how birthday parties began.

At first it was only kings who were recognized as important enough to have a birthday celebration (maybe this is how the tradition of birthday crowns began?). As time went by, children became included in birthday celebrations. The first children’s birthday parties occurred in Germany and were called Kinderfeste.

Idea Starters

Use a party theme to pull together an idea, celebrate an interest, or customize the atmosphere for your occasion.

Make your party more memorable with party favors! Offer keepsakes or candy in themed goody bags.

Create your own invitations! Decorate envelopes with stickers that fit the theme and add a sprinkle of confetti in the card.

Keep guests entertained and involved. A pinata or crafts that fit the party theme are great activities for kids. Try games or costume contests for adults.

Don’t forget the pets! Dress up your 4-legged friends in costumes too.

Light up your evening events with glow gear!

Be ready for spur of the moment parties too. Stock a party kit with balloons, streamers, decorations, favors, tableware and essentials to make you party prepared.

History of celebration of birthdays

birthday party planningIt is thought that the large-scale celebration of birthdays in Europe began with the cult of Mithras, which originated in Persia but was spread by soldiers throughout the Roman Empire. Before this, such celebrations were not common; and, hence, practices from other contexts such as the Saturnalia were adapted for birthdays. Because many Roman soldiers took to Mithraism, it had a wide distribution and influence throughout the empire until it was supplanted by Christianity. The Jewish perspective on birthday celebrations is disputed by various rabbis.

The celebration of birthdays is not universal in the West; in addition to those people preferring name day celebrations, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate either, considering their origins to be pagan festivals along with Christmas and Easter. Some adults loathe celebrating it as it reminds them that they are getting progressively older. And in some activities that are not year-round, birthday acknowledgements may be discouraged because of some birthdays not falling during the season.

In most English-speaking countries it is traditional to sing the song Happy Birthday to You to the honored person celebrating his birthday. The Happy Birthday song tune is thought to be the most frequently sung melody in the world. Similar songs exist in other languages such as “Lang zal hij/zij leven” (and several others) in Dutch, “Zum Geburtstag Viel Glück” in German, “Cumpleaños feliz” in Spanish, “Sto lat” in Polish, “Lá Bhreithlá Shona Duit” in Irish, “Joyeux Anniversaire” in French, and “Tanti Auguri a te” in Italian. This happens traditionally at a birthday party while someone brings a birthday cake into the (often darkened) room.

* The birthday cake is traditionally highly decorated, and typically covered with lit candles when presented; the number of candles often equals the age of the person. The person whose birthday it is makes a silent wish and then blows out the candles; if done in one breath, the wish is supposed to come true, but only if the person keeps the wish to himself (or herself). It is also common for the “birthday boy” or “birthday girl” to cut the initial piece of the cake as a newlywed couple might with a wedding cake.

If the knife touches the bottom, or when withdrawn from the cake comes out with pieces of cake adhering to it, the birthday boy or girl may have to kiss the nearest boy or girl (of the opposite sex).

Birthday cakes have been a tradition dating back as far as the Middle Ages when the English would conceal symbolic items such as gold coins, rings and thimbles inside their cakes. Each item was associated with a prediction. For example, a person finding a gold coin in a birthday cake would supposedly become wealthy; a person discovering a thimble would never marry.

Typical birthday party decorations include balloons, streamers and confetti.

For special birthdays and for when the number of candles might be considered impracticable or a fire hazard, special candles may be substituted for the many individual candles. These candles are in the shape of a numeral; for example, on the fifth birthday there may be one candle on the cake in the shape of the numeral 5, and on the fiftieth birthday there may be two candles on the cake, one in the shape of the numeral 5 followed by the other in the shape of the numeral 0.

* A birthday is considered a special day for the person, and so the person will often get special treatment from friends and family. This is especially true for children who cannot wait for their own special day. In addition to parties, people often receive gifts on their birthday.

* Birthday parties for children often include fun games which are relevant to the local culture, or the visit of a magician to entertain.

* There are also traditions of surprise parties.

* Not all traditions are equally generous. In certain circles the birthday boy or girl is expected to treat their party guests; this varies depending on the local culture and may involve party gifts or other nice gesture. In some cultures the birthday at which the youngster reaches the legal age for alcohol consumption may be celebrated with a party at which free or abundant alcoholic drinks are available.

Birthday CakeNotable birthdays can include:

* When the most significant digit changes, for example one’s 1st, 10th, 15th, 30th, 50th, or 100th birthdays, as well as significant years such as the 18th (legal adult age in many western countries including the US, UK and Australia (also UK alcoholic beverage drinking age), 21st (US alcoholic beverage drinking age), and 13th (when someone officially becomes a teenager).

* One’s golden birthday, also called a champagne birthday, is the day when the age someone turns is the same as the day in the month he or she was born. For example, someone turning 26 on December 26 celebrates his or her golden birthday on that day.

* In most legal systems, one becomes a legal adult on a particular birthday (often 18th or 21st), and at different ages gains different rights and responsibilities — voting, certain drug use (for example, alcohol, purchasing tobacco), eligibility for military draft or voluntary enlistment, purchasing lottery tickets, vehicle driving licences, etc.

* Many cultures have one or more coming of age birthdays:

* Jewish boys have a bar mitzvah on or around their 13th birthday. Jewish girls observe a bat mitzvah on or around their 12th birthday, or sometimes on or around their 13th birthday in Reform and Conservative Judaism.

* In some Christian traditions, generally Catholic and Anglican, Confirmation is the ritual by which a young person becomes an official member of the Church. This sometimes includes the bestowal of a ‘Confirmation name’, generally the name of a saint, which is often worn as a second middle name. Confirmation also bestows the Holy Spirit upon the confirmand, and in some churches is received concurrent with baptism or first communion.

* In Latin America the quinceañera celebration traditionally marks a girl’s 15th birthday.

* Some girls and a few boys in the United States have “sweet sixteen” birthday parties.

* In many Asian countries the 14th birthday is celebrated as the day one becomes a man, or a woman, in society.

* Many Filipino girls celebrate their 18th birthdays with a cotillion and debutante ball, commonly known as a debut.

* The birthdays of historically significant people, like national heroes or founders, are often commemorated by an official holiday. Some saints are remembered by a liturgical feast (sometimes on a presumed birthday). By analogy, the Latin term Dies natalis ‘birthday’ is applied to the anniversary of an institution (such as a university).

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