We all love receiving gifts on birthdays. No matter how old we get, the excitement of opening a present from our loved ones is just priceless. Birthday cards, cakes, and birthday gifts are a long-standing tradition that we all celebrate but have you ever wondered why we give gifts on birthdays? Who started this tradition? We were wondering the same and that’s why we did some digging for you. So, here are some details and history about why we give gifts on birthdays!
The act of simply giving gifts can be traced back to the time when cavemen were around. Cave people gave each other gifts typically from nature like an animal tooth that can be worn as an ornament or a flower. Over the years the idea of gifts has changed. Like years later, herds of livestock and food were given as gifts. But now gifts can mean anything – something as simple as a bouquet, chocolates, and candies or something fancy such as gadgets, games, and scented candles.
But no matter what the gift is, the whole idea behind it is to make the person feel appreciated and loved. A gift is meant to make people feel special and show them that we are grateful for them and their role in our lives!
In ancient cultures, the survival of an individual beyond their first year was considered an achievement. However, annual birthday celebrations were quite rare and people only celebrated special moments in an individual’s life like birth, becoming an adult, or marriage. But it was in the 15th century BC that a Greek historian, Herodotus, noticed that the wealthy Persians had lavish birthday celebrations. They feasted on baked camels, donkeys, and cows.
Later on, in the 1st century AD, the Romans started celebrating birthdays of friends, family as well as the reigning emperor with gifts and drinking too much wine. These birthday celebrations were so extravagant and popular, that in the 4th century Christian communities asked for a ban on them.
While the Romans and Persians had lavish birthday celebrations, the ancient Greeks believed that evil spirits haunt and harm those celebrating their birthdays. That’s why to protect the person whose birthday it was, friends and family gathered and bought gifts to ward off evil spirits. The gifts were considered symbolic tools against bad spirits. In fact, they also used noisemakers in an attempt to scare away the spirits. Most people believe this is where the tradition of giving gifts on birthdays started.
An interesting fact about gifts is that in Roman times, only men were given gifts on their birthdays. It was only in the 12th century that women started celebrating their birthdays.
Also, the Greeks were the ones who started the tradition of adding candles to a birthday cake. However, they only used to light candles to honor their gods and goddesses, and back then there were no cakes. The birthday cake that we know today came into existence in the 18th century and was created by the Germans. That’s the same time when ‘Kinderfeste’ started taking place – a kind of kid’s birthday party.
So, basically, you can thank the Romans, Greeks, and the Persians for your birthday gifts this year!
Like every tradition, the tradition of giving gifts on birthdays has evolved. Today we give birthday gifts to not just our family but also our friends and other people. Giving someone a gift on their birthday is a way of showing our appreciation towards them. It need not be too extravagant or expensive, a birthday gift could be a simple birthday card or maybe a personalized birthday song. That’s because it’s the thought behind the gift that counts!
So, go ahead and make someone’s birthday special by surprising them with a beautiful birthday gift!