May Blog: 2021 - Let’s talk Birthdays

Hello and welcome to this month’s blog. I love the month of May - the promise of sunshine (although as I write this the wind is attempting to pick the garden furniture up), the promise of warmer weather (I’m wearing my thickest jumper) and do not forget the magic of bluebells nestling under trees on woodland walks.

As well as making wedding cakes, my diary has been flooded with birthday cake orders and while sipping my cup of Safi coffee I got to wondering where the idea of celebrating birthdays came from - and why on earth do we have candles that have to be blown out with a wish?

I got myself comfy - drank more Safi coffee and started reading… This is what I found - I do hope you find this interesting because I most definitely did.

The exact time that humans recognised birth dates is a tad hazy and by that, I mean unrecorded and vague, however there is lots of information available - so I have patched together some interesting finds for your perusal.

In the early days of mankind, means to tell the time were fairly limited and I doubt that making a birthday cake was much of a priority when chasing down a mammoth for dinner. However, it appears that the Egyptians were the first to recognise the importance of a birth date - 5000 ish years ago!

The Bible gives us the first reliable account of a birthday being recognised. In Genesis, the ancient text states that the Pharaoh was celebrating his birthday…

‘Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand.’ — Genesis 40:20–22

In the scholarly world, there is a rumour that the date did not apply to the Pharaoh’s actual birth date - rather the date that he was crowned. The coronation date was hugely significant as it was believed that this was when the pharaoh left his human state and became a God. Something I most definitely would have liked to see. Anyway, as is the case for so much of our history and traditions, birthdays have deep roots in old Greek and Roman traditions.