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My 3-year-old son for weeks after his birthday would attribute any special treat or fun thing to “beCAUUUUSE it’s my birthday!” So I taught him about un-birthdays. Except he says umbrella-birthdays (we had a huge set of storms about that same time, so there is a logical connection). Today is my sister’s birthday (not the wedding blogger, the other sister who would prefer less technology invade her life). So ode to her here.
Birthdays are yet another example of the traditional (if somewhat mythical) American egalitarianism. Around 3000 BC, birthday celebrations were only for males of noble lineage. They were unheard of for women of any rank lower than queen, and certainly not for the lower classes in general. Most people didn’t even know what day they were born, let alone commemorate it. In America – ha! Everyone is expected to have a birthday, complete with birthday party, cake and presents. And, apparently, my son gets several weeks of birthday each year.
The song we sing “Happy Birthday To You,” was first published in 1893 in a book called Song Stories of the Kindergarten. It was a song to greet children to the classroom in the mornings, and therefore entitled “Good Morning To You.” Two sisters from Louisville, Kentucky – Mildred Hill and Dr. Patty Smith Hill – wrote it to incorporate modern teaching methods into learning. Mildred taught at the Louisville Experimental Kindergarten where Patty was principal.
Happy Birthday, Beck!
Information on birthdays from Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things by Charles Panati. Harper & Row: New York, 1987.