5 Facts You Probably Don’t Know About Birthday Traditions

There are so many ways people handle their birthdays. Some lean towards ignoring them, while others remind almost everyone in their lives about it. Regardless, multiple birthday traditions have been solidified all over the world when celebrating.

Presents and cards are handed to a celebrant at the party, a song that’s cheerfully played before blowing the candles on the cake. Although they may seem like an established tradition now, it was a little more different back then. If you’re interested in learning a couple of facts about birthday traditions, keep on reading:

1) Birthday Celebrations Didn’t Exist Before the Calendar.

Setting birthdays wasn’t possible without understanding the concepts of what exactly a birth date and year were. No one had measured time. It was only after people started using the sun and moons occurrences to mark the days and formulate what’s now known as the calendar.

This record then allowed people to spot their birthday, alongside other big events such as New Year’s, Christmas and more. Celebrations themselves were more mysterious though, with some considering birthdays as a pagan ritual or a protection practice for gods in the past.


2) Birthday Cakes Were from German Tradition.

Thank the Germans for baking and coming up with having cakes on birthdays. Kinderfeste, a party for younger German kids, would always feature a rich birthday cake. They didn’t start out sweet though and were even compared to bread at one point.

They later evolved to become a little more sugary. Plus, birthday cakes also became a hit internationally after the Industrial Revolution, when resources finally allowed bakeries to mass-produce cakes to celebrate one’s special day.


3) Birthday Candles Were for Greek Gods and Goddesses.

Blowing the birthday cake candles is one of the most iconic traditions during the celebration. However, those candles weren’t set atop the baked sweet and given to any ordinary person. Instead, they were lit as an offering to Greek gods and goddesses.

Worshippers of Artemis, the goddess of the hunt and moon, made special use of the candles. They would place it around circle cakes to simulate the illuminating moonlight and make a prayer to Artemis. All the candles were blown after the worshippers made a wish.


4) Birthday Cards Topped the Everyday Cards Ranking.

The greeting card industry was on a roll back then, creating a unique and affirming present that acquaintances could give to one another. Christmas cards were by far the most popular event card that would sell out almost every December. Had the birthday card been considered an event card, it could have easily beaten the annual event.

Alas, the birthday card was categorised as an everyday card by the industry, easily trumping all the other variations in the category. The numbers will probably keep racking up as many try to challenge the Guinness World Record of receiving 350 million birthday cards.


5) The Happy Birthday Song Was a Rewrite.

The Happy Birthday song is something that’s quite simplistic in lyrics and tune that it would seem so easy to come up with on your own. However, the song was essentially a rewrite of Good Morning To All, a tune made up by two Kentucky school teachers for their students.

Robert Coleman had refashioned the song and published it as The Birthday Song. There was a big case between the original songwriters and Coleman, which landed in a win for the Kentucky teachers and copyright. The song’s rumoured to be under that copyright until 2030.



There’s an interesting story behind each element. Learning more about these traditions can help us come to appreciate them a little more. Or, of course, keeping in mind that bit of information while you participate at a birthday party can provide you with something to chuckle about.

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