One house, one birthday! 2020.01.02
Birthdays are usually a special time of the year. Most people enjoy celebrating the day of their birth. When I came to Japan and made new Japanese friends, I was surprised by how many of them did not celebrate their birthdays. What is the origin of this tradition? Like every other holiday, I had the sneaky feeling that commercialism played a great part in pushing birthday celebrations to the forefront of the 'must-do' events in pop culture. I decided to do some research to see what the origin of this tradition might be.
On this website, someone had the same question as I did and was able to dig up some hypotheses of several historians. You can read the full blog here!
- First came the calendar, then came the assignment of special days throughout the year. After realising that cycles and seasons were repeating themselves, calendars were created to mark these time changes. From this type of tracking system came the ability to celebrate birthdays and other significant events and anniversaries each year.
- The Egyptians did it first! However, they weren't marking the day of their physical birth but rather the day that Pharaoh's were crowned. The crowning in ancient times meant the transformation into a god; their "birth" as a god.
- Greeks also assumedly had the same tradition as the Egyptians but thought that the sacred day welcomed evil spirits. As a form of protection they lit candles and used noisemakers to ward off spirits, friends and family gathered to protect the person from harm with good cheers, thoughts and wishes and gifts were given to bring even more joy.
- The Romans however, were the first to celebrate the birth of the 'common' man. Non-religious figures and regular Roman citizens would celebrate the birthdays of their (male only) friends and family members. The government actually created public holidays in honour of more famous citizens.
To unify the idea of everyone's birthday being special, we decided to host an event called, "One house, one party" on the 7th of September. Not everyone was able to join but it was still a good party. We ordered pizzas, baked and bought cakes, did a secret birthday present exchange, sang the happy birthday song in four languages (English, French, Spanish and Japanese), played a couple of games to have some fun and of course, had a lot of drinks and laughs. I was lucky because that week was my actual birthday!
I'm like a chihuahua. Small but fierce and full of energy. I'm generally a positive person and try to make the best of each day.