Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Gratitude Day 14 - Birthdays

Today I am grateful for birthdays. It is one of my wonderful friends big birthdays today (50) and yesterday we gathered together in our weekly girls group to wish her a happy birthday with laughter and cake.

After our meeting two of us went to lunch with her to catch up on things, and to help organise her party happening this weekend. It is a great privilege to be asked to assist with somebody's birthday plans. Obviously your input is respected and valued, and you are considered reliable - you will not let them down in what planning they assign to you.

The celebration of somebody's day of their birth is a wonderful excuse to show that person how much we care for them. As we do not take the time in everyday life, as we should, to do this outside of these special occasions. So we should embrace any celebratory event we are asked to attend, and therefore honour our connection to that person and how important they are in our lives.

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Birthdays are original, personal, noteworthy traditions, we all celebrate them in different ways. Some people like to have everybody surrounding them for a joyous party others like smaller celebrations or simply would prefer to forget them. We must respect each person choose of how to celebrate the day as it is there day not ours, so it is wrong to enforce our ideas upon them.

We are so used to celebrating our birthday every year that it seems like it's been a tradition almost forever!!
When early people had no way except by the moon, sun or by some important events of keeping track of time little attention was paid to the anniversary of a person's birth. Only when ancient peoples began taking notice of the moon's cycles, did they pay attention to the changing seasons and the pattern that repeated itself over and over and so they began to mark and note time changes. That's the start of birthday history.

Eventually, the first calendars were formulated in order to mark time changes and other special days. From this tracking system came the ability to celebrate birthdays and other significant anniversaries the same day each year.

It is also said that Birthday celebrations began as a form of protection. It was a common belief that evil spirits were more dangerous to a person when he or she experienced a change in their daily life, such as turning a year older. To protect them from harm, friends and family would gather around the birthday person and bring good cheers, thoughts and wishes. Giving gifts brought even more good cheer to ward off the evil spirits. Noisemakers are thought to be used at parties as a way of scaring away the evil spirits. The birthday history custom of lighting candles originated with people believing that the gods lived in the sky and by lighting candles and torches they were sending a signal or prayer to the gods so they could be answered. When you blow out the candles and make a wish this is another way of sending a signal and a message. Eventually, birthdays progressed to being a happier occasion, and in England, people began to bring cakes in which they had hidden small trinkets, rings, etc.

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Some believe the tradition of birthday cake was started by early Greeks who used to take round or moon shaped cake to temple of Artemis - the Goddess of Moon. Others believe the custom of Birthday cake initiated in Germany where people used to make bread in the shape of baby Jesus’s swaddling cloth.

The popular custom of lighting candles on the cake is said to have originated because Greeks used to light candles on the cake taken to Artemis to make it glow like a moon. Germans are said to have placed a big candle in the centre of the cake to symbolize ‘the light of life’. Even today people make silent wishes as they blow out candles. It is believed that blowing out all candles in one breath brings good luck.

The song "Happy Birthday to You" was composed by two sisters, Mildred and Patty Hill, Patty was a school teacher and Mildred was also an educator who became a composer and pianist. The melody was composed by Mildred and the lyrics were written by Patty in 1893, but it was originally for a classroom greeting song titled "Good Morning to All", but nobody really paid much attention to it until the original words "Good Morning to You" were changed to "Happy Birthday to You", words that are sung in virtually every home across the world at least once during the year. It is reported that the birthday song brings in about $2 million a year in royalties.

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While the first greeting cards can be traced back to the ancient Chinese, Ancient Egyptians may have sent cards in the form of papyrus scrolls to their loved ones. The tradition of the birthday card began in the UK approximately 100 years ago, they were initially sent as an apology for not being able to attend a birthday celebration. Birthday cards are an important means of communicating good wishes and love to a person. They carry a personal touch that makes them endearing and very special and emotionally charged to help convey feelings of love that most people find difficult to express. Just think how many of you keep cards from those dear to you.

German immigrant Louis Prang is credited with the start of the Greeting Card industry in the U.S. in 1856 due to his invention of the lithographic press. Shortly after coming to the United States, Prang set up a small shop in Boston and began printing cards and other materials. In 1870, he published Christmas cards which were very popular in England, and soon began printing birthday cards for sale in both the U.S. and England. In 1930, the use of colour lithography lead to tremendous growth in the industry, and all types of greeting cards became very popular and a very lucrative business as well.

The best known greeting card company is probably Hallmark, started by Joyce C. Hall whose first office was a room at the YMCA. By 1915, Hall Brothers was manufacturing greeting cards (including birthday cards) in its own plant.

Just remember, it really is the thought that counts, so whether you choose to send traditional birthday cards or birthday e-cards, choose thoughtfully and carefully and make sure that it comes from the heart., whether it is sent to a co worker, a business contact, or someone special in your life.
Robert Louis Stevenson, author of famous works such as Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, was born in Scotland in 1850 and went on to become one of the most famous writers of the 19th century. However Stevenson was much more than just a literary genius. 

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Just three years before his death in 1894, Stevenson learned that the daughter of Henry Clay Ide, the US commissioner to Samoa and his personal friend, was upset with the timing of her birthday, which fell on Christmas day. Stevenson wrote to the twelve year old girl with a letter enclosed that he “legally” transferred his birthday to her.

Stevenson claimed that Miss Annie. H. Ide “was born upon Christmas Day, and is therefore…denied the consolation and profit of a Proper Birthday.” Stevenson said he no longer had any need for a birthday and happily passed his on to Miss Ide, who he believed would make a much better day of it. To read the letter click below!

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