Posted by ESC on September 16, 2001
In Reply to: Happy birthday posted by mark on September 14, 2001
: a friend of mine has a son whose school study is the meaning
of the saying
: "Happy Birthday"
: wpuld anyone know the origin or meaning this came from?
: if you could help this would be greatly apprieciated.
HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY - "A greeting to someone on their birthday. The birthday greeting song 'Happy birthday to you,' with the person's name inserted in the third line after 'Dear,' was originally 'Good Morning to All,' written in 1893, with words by the American educator Patty Smith Hill and music by her sister, Mildred J. Hill. The present words by Clayton F. Summy were substituted in 1935." From Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable revised by Adrian Room (HarperCollinsPublishers, New York, 1999, Sixteenth Edition).
"Happy Birthday to You" is ".still (until the year 2010) a copyrighted song that earns over $1.2 million dollars a year. Ranked as the world's most frequently sung song in the 'Guinness Book of World Records'." "Good Morning to All" was originally written by Patty Smith Hill (died 1946) and Mildred J. Hill (died 1916) as part of their "Song Stories for the Kindergarten." From Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).
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.
Birthday celebration customs
Birthday celebrations are relatively new. Egyptians observed birthdays, but only for their rulers. They held parades, circuses, gladiatorial contests, and sumptuous feasts! The Romans staged parades and chariot races to celebrate birthdays; some of which were created for their gods. Mere mortals were not honored or even remembered on the day of their birth.
The birthday cake is only 200 years old! Cakes made from sweetened bread dough and coated with sugar, were the first birthday cakes and they originated in Germany.
It has been said that if the cake falls while baking, it is a sign of bad luck in the coming year. Coins, buttons, and rings were baked into cakes. The guest who receiving the slice with the coin was guaranteed riches in the future, the ring signified marriage.
In ancient times, people prayed over the flames of an open fire. They believed that the smoke carried their thoughts up to the gods. Today, we believe, that if you blow out all your candles in one breath, your wish will come true.