So last week (April 21st) was Felicity's birthday in her series. So I wanted to celebrate by writing about the history of birthday celebrations in the 18th century. If you try to google info on 18th Century birthday celebrations... you won't find much. Reason being is that birthday parties for common people were fairly new at this point in time. Although the first recorded birthday celebrations were from ancient Egypt, these celebrations were only for coronations of Pharaohs because it was believed that when a man became a Pharaoh, he became a god. So it was like they were "born again" so to speak. Ancient Greeks and Romans celebrated the birthday of their moon goddess, Artemis by having cakes covered in candles (which was said to be the reason why today's celebration tradition of blowing out candles on a cake evolved.) In a book titled, "The Lore of Birthdays" it says "The Greeks believed that everyone had a protective spirit or daemon who attended his birth and watched over him in life. This spirit had a mystic relation with the god on whose birthday the individual was born. The Romans also subscribed to this idea. . . . This notion was carried down in human belief and is reflected in the guardian angel, the fairy godmother and the patron saint. . . . The custom of lighted candles on the cakes started with the Greeks. . . . Honey cakes round as the moon and lit with tapers were placed on the temple altars of [Artemis]. . . . Birthday candles, in folk belief, are endowed with special magic for granting wishes. . . . Lighted tapers and sacrificial fires have had a special mystic significance ever since man first set up altars to his gods. The birthday candles are thus an honor and tribute to the birthday child and bring good fortune..."
Christians in the early middle ages believed that celebrating birthdays were a sin. They did however celebrate their "saints day" which is the day of the saint in which they were named after. Eventually Christians decided it was okay to celebrate birthdays (i.e. Christmas), but in the middle ages, it normally just royalty that celebrated their birthdays. But at this time.. they weren't exactly celebrations. It was believed that evil spirits were after people on their birthdays and these celebrations were meant to scare off the spirits and protect the person who's birthday it was. So friends and family would use noise makers and sing songs to be noisy to "protect" the person. Gifts were also given for good luck!
As time went on, birthday celebrations slowly became more popular but around the late 18th century, the Germans began to celebrate what they called Kinderfeste. This holds the closest resemblance to the modern birthday parties. German children would get a cake with the same amount of candles as their age plus one more to represent the year to come. Blowing out the candles and making a wish would follow.
I was hoping I could find a good example of an actual 18th century birthday party in the Colonies but I have had no luck. In Felicity's book, Happy Birthday, Felicity her family celebrates her birthday by eating fancy cakes and drinking hot chocolate. The room was decorated with many flowers and Felicity's mother set out her finest china. She was gifted a guitar from her grandfather that once belonged to her grandmother. Although there isn't much record of it... I would assume most birthday celebrations in the colonies were similar to this.
Well I hope you found this to be interesting! Make sure to follow so you don't miss out on anything and feel free to follow me on Instagram as well! @faithful.friends.forever.be