We all love our birthdays. They’re that special day of the year when we can feel unique about who we are and people treat us in an according manner. However, once upon a time did you know, there were no birthdays?

Before the calendar came about, or the calculation of dates, people were unable to tell specific days from others. However, with a grasp of the lunar cycles, humans began to develop ways of organising the year into segments and so the date of birth celebration came into existence.

As many civilisations had calendars before the coming of organised religions, birthdays origins can be traced right back to pagan culture. Of course, like many celebrations birthday’s were seen as occasions to ward off evil spirits. People would gather around a person on their birthday and hold parties to keep away any spirits of this sort. The superstitions of birthdays do not just come with the likes of the April or March birthstone, which came later.

People would bring the person gifts on their birthday, as they do now. The reason for this was thought to honour the person. Flowers were very popular as birthday gifts during these pagan times.

Elite Celebrations

Our records of birthday celebrations show that through much of history, celebrations were only held by the elite. These high ranking folk could hold celebrations, however the average person couldn’t afford to do so and even if they did, it was highly unlikely it would be recorded, as they weren’t important enough.

The Greeks are said to have created a lot of the rituals we still use today. The eating birthday cake is said to have come about after the Greeks brought moon shaped cake to the temple of Artemis. Candles are also seen as originating from the Greeks too. As Artemis was the god of the moon – hence the round cake – the Greeks used to light it with candles in symbolism. It was believed this would be offered as a prayer.

Germans are also said to have had their part to play. The birthday cake is said to have been created by German people, who used to make bread in the shape of the swaddling cloth worn by Jesus. A candle was often placed in the centre of this bread as a symbol. It was thought this candle was the ‘light of life’ and traditionally was prayed to and wished upon in a similar manner to the modern day making a wish when the candles were blown out.

March Birthstone and Other stories

The birthstone, which people often receive on their birthday according the month of birth, is said to have originated in Germany also, and was symbolic of the twelve stones on Aaron’s breastplate in the Bible. These birthstones are said to have represented the 12 Tribes of Israel. It is claimed that the use of specific stones as birthstones began in 16th century Germany. Others see the use of a December or March birthstone as unfounded salesmanship which started in 19th century America as the constant adding of stones is there to ensure they can be bought at all price points. For example there are four March birthstone, though Aaron originally only wore 12 for the whole year – makes you think.

Of course there are numerous other birthday rituals, however these are among the most common in the world. Birthdays are a worldwide celebration, regardless of race and from candles to the March birthstone, make a lot of people happy.

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  • Photograph by alicia rae

Parriss Jewellers is a great source for that special birthday gift, including the March birthstone.