Let’s have some fun and look at a few theories on the origins of the birthday celebration.
A common theory is it all got started with the desire to chase away bad spirits. It is also said that making noise to keep them at bay and lighting candles to reach out to the gods in the sky for protection were used in the early celebrations.
I learned that while birthday parties have transitioned through time and cultural influence, basic rituals of gathering friends and family, singing, making noise, and lighting candles have endured the ages.
In continuing this voyage to discover and appreciate birthday celebrations around the world, let’s head west and look briefly at how some Asian countries approach and celebrate birthdays.
In Japan, for example, certain birthdays were more important than others. For girls, it was ages 3 and 7, and the fifth birthday for boys. According to tradition, these children would go to the Shrine on November 15th during the year of their 7th, 5th, or 3rd birthday.
Prayers for a Long Life
In early Japan, it was common apparently for children to die at these ages, therefore, the purpose in going to the Shrine was to pray for a long life and give thanks for their health. This tradition is commonly referred to as “7, 5, and 3.” Afterwards, there is a feast in the family home.
On this day, the children would dress in their best kimono, and hope to be given money to buy a special bag of candy marked
with the words “sweets for 1000 years of life” written on them. It was expected of the parents to express the joy that their children have passed these ages, and to pray for their wealth and well- being.
Everyone Celebrated on January 1
There was also a time when all Japanese children celebrated their birthdays on January 1st.That is because according to ancient tradition everyone got older on New Years’ Day, not on their birthday.
In modern Japan, most children celebrate their true birthday, which is a break from the past. It is more relaxed because the reasons for celebrating in the traditional way no longer exist, and quite possibly because of greater acceptance of western influence.
In Japan today, adults are uncomfortable arranging a party for themselves and appreciate others making arrangements. It seems like it can go either way in western countries.
A child’s birthday celebration in Japan has evolved from having specific birthdays regarded as more important than others, to a more carefree party reflective of western culture. A cake is a must now, and birthday candles in direct ratio to the child’s age are common.
In other words, there is less reading between the lines and perhaps simply enjoying it.
As is the custom almost everywhere, without first singing “Happy Birthday” nothing else happens. In Japan, it’s often sung in English and by tradition in the dark.
The Japanese have a distinct and beautiful way of honoring a birthday.
In my business, we are all about birthdays, engaging every young girl’s inherent dream to be a princess, serve tea and hold court among her friends.
It is an enduring tradition holding value universally unlike any other throughout the world.
No matter who they are or where they come from, like an eternal spring, there will always be princesses.
Source of birthday celebration information: www.birthdaycelebrations.net