Now then...Birthdays. I've been wondering how long people have celebrated their birthdays and it's practically for ever...at least since Bibilcal times anyway. The Romans used to have an all day party where the wine flowed and there would have been a feast and they exchanged expensive and frivolous gifts...sounds rather nice, providing they gave the poor Christians a day off from being eaten by lions...

In Mediaeval Europe the wealthy celebrated the actual day of their birth while the lowly peasants had a bit of a do on their Saints Day...that usually coincided with their birthday anyway because they were named for the Saint whose day it was when they were born.

Remember that there is a Saint for virtually every day of the week...we tend to only think of the more famous ones like Patrick and Francis but there are hundreds of more minor Saints. The very early Saints were simply the first converted Christians in their parish who managed to persuade their kinfolk to join them in the new religion. As Christianity spread across Europe, there were more and more Saints joining up,



as it were.

There are some who don't celebrate birthdays...especially the Jehovahs Witnesses whose beliefs don't allow it. They think that one ought not celebrate the day of your birth because you may sin during the rest of your life and that would mean your birthday wasn't to be celebrated but forgotten. I think I have that in more or less a nutshell...I looked it up and that appears to be their main reason for the avoidance of birthdays...but some Jehovahs celebrate in secret and many of the more 'modern' Jehovahs have parties and give gifts to their children.

Birthday celebrations have their roots in Paganism of course, as do all sensible and joyful times. The candles indicate the light of the earth...the round cake is the earth herself...the party, with dancing perhaps, is as old as time itself, with a feast and music and the feeling of being blessed for yet another year. Even our relatively new traditions of having an entertainer stem from times long ago when travelling fools and storytellers would have come to tell tales of ancient legends and the fool would have performed tricks and sleight of hand to keep the party guests amused. It isn't so different for us to hire a bouncy castle or a clown...

The North Koreans can't have their birthdays on the same day their leaders died, so they are allowed to have the following day as their birthday instead...

And if you are a little child in Ghana, and it's your birthday, you have specially cooked pancakes for your breakfast.

We all have different, or favourite ways of celebrating the day of our birth...whether we have a cake ablaze with candles or a treat we've chosen for ourselves we are following the Pagan ways of being at one with Mother Earth...the exchange of gifts...the candles...the special supper...old traditions for modern times.