June 27th, 2009
Birthday Gift Celebrations By Nancy Enright
ExperienceDays.com offers a wide variety of unique experience gifts to give someone a unique and wonderful birthday surprise. Dinner Cruises, cooking classes, helicopter rides are only a few of the possibilities available to give someone a birthday celebration that will be unforgettable.
Most of us remember the excitement and anticipation attached to our birthday celebrations when we were children. For the very young, the months, weeks, and days leading up to a birthday can seem endless. Whether we celebrate with only our immediate family; an extended group of aunts, uncles and cousins; or a large number of peer-group friends, childhood birthday parties are truly special. As we get older, birthdays may lose some of their significance, except for those landmark birthdays – like “sweet sixteen” or twenty-one or thirty. Still, most of us enjoy celebrating this special day in one way or another and, almost always, we want to do it with those we love.
History: Birthdays have been celebrated for thousands of years. In fact, the Bible mentions two birthday celebrations. The first occurs in the book of Genesis when Pharaoh celebrates his birthday, and this feast becomes the occasion for Joseph’s prophecies concerning the cupbearer and baker being fulfilled; one was promoted and the other hanged. The New Testament also mentions a birthday in the Gospels of both Matthew and Mark. King Herod’s celebration of his birthday was the setting for Salome’s famous dance and her request, at her mother’s bidding, for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. The Jewish tradition of the Bar or Bat Mitzvah, when a young boy or girl reaches adult status in the religious community (at about thirteen), is also connected with birthday celebrations, though it need not be celebrated on the actual date of birth of the child. Christian confirmation serves a similar function, and while both ceremonies are essentially religious, they also usually involve parties that are not unlike traditional birthday parties.
The ancient Romans celebrated a child’s naming day, called dies lustricus, which involved a joyful celebration. Both boys and girls were presented with the bulla, a locket believed to have magical powers to ward off evil spirits, on this day, and they did not take it off until they reached adulthood — for a boy when he received the toga virilis and for a girl when she married. In much of the ancient world, birthdays were considered important because of astrology. The pagan cultures of Egypt, Rome, Greece, and Persia all held the horoscope to be very important. Jews and Christians did not follow astrology, and they did not celebrate birthdays until much Note that the two mentions of birthdays from the Bible were about the celebrations of pagan leaders, and even among pagans, there may not have been too many celebrations for the common people on their birthdays.
As time went on, some Christians took to celebrating a “naming day,” on the feast day of person’s patron saint (the saint for whom the person is named). A patron saint might be chosen because of his or her feast day being on or near the day a child was born, so a naming day might be closely linked to a date of birth; at any rate, the celebrations were very similar. This custom continues in some cultures to this day. In the middle ages, the custom of celebrating the actual birthday of a person also developed, with cakes being baked with objects (like rings, etc.) placed inside, with special significance for the person finding them in the cake (good luck, never marrying, etc.
Birthdays Today: Today birthdays are widely celebrated throughout the world. Though each celebration is different, there are a few staples included in most. First, cake, prettily decorated with flowers or other objects and perhaps with a message of good wishes for the birthday person, is a norm. Candles also are traditionally included, with the number of the years celebrated by the person represented by the number of candles – or a candle or candles in the shape of the person’s age. As we get older, it makes sense to use these number-shaped candles! Second, gifts – it is traditional to give the birthday person a present on his or her special day. This gift might be as simple as a bouquet of flowers or as involved as a unique experience, such as those suggested above. Third, cards – birthday cards have become an important part of the celebration, especially for those who are not able to be with the birthday person. The birthday card business has become a $7.5 billion dollar business in the U. S. alone, as of 2004, having developed from a lithography business started by Louis Prang, a German immigrant living in Boston, in 1856.
Overall, birthdays are a way to show our love to those we care about. No matter how old we get, most of us enjoy getting a phone call or receiving a special card or gift on the anniversary of the day we were born. ExperienceDays offers unique gift ideas to celebrate with someone you care about, carrying on an ancient tradition in a new and exciting way.