Since our readers enjoyed our first post all about the history of birthdays, we thought we’d share even more fun birthday facts that you may not know. Isn’t it funny that we all do similar things on our birthdays without any thought about how or why we do them? For instance, where did the idea come from to wear pointy hats? Why do we give gifts? And who came up with that birthday song in the first place? Read on for some fun and interesting information regarding the special day each one of us celebrates.
Pointy Party Hats
Though there is no one origin of the pointy party hat, this distinctive headgear has been around at the very least since 2800 BC, and was recognized as a symbol of power or status:
- In ancient Egypt, only the nobility were allowed to wear pointed hats as a symbol of their elevated status above their subjects. The different designs made individual pharaohs identifiable to their subjects.
- In medieval Jewish traditions, some people started wearing cylindrical hats secured around the chin to distinguish themselves in Christian Europe. These hats were higher and more pointed than the traditional Jewish Kippah of today.
- It was believed that witches and wizards wore pointed hats because the hats were representations of the cone of power.
- Catholic princesses and noblewomen in Medieval Europe would wear cone-shaped hats intricately decorated with long veils, precious jewels, and even intricate butterfly and flower detailing.
- The party hat can also be traced to the dunce cap, worn by misbehaving or poorly
performing schoolchildren from the mid-19th century to the early 20th century, signifying that the wearer engaged in frivolous and foolish behavior—naturally what we all expect of the birthday person on their special day!
Overall, these cylindrical birthday hats continue to be the proud tradition in many different cultures, with the point of the hat elevating the wearer to the status of royalty—which, we all agree, a person becomes on their birthday.
Giving Birthday Gifts
One theory regarding the giving of birthday gifts dates back to early Europe, when people believed that evil spirits would seek out and haunt someone on his or her birthday, most importantly the king. Therefore, on one’s birthday, people would gather to protect that person and would bring with them good wishes. These gatherings later became our modern day birthday parties, and over time, people brought more than just good wishes to ward off evil spirits; they brought presents, too.
Who Wrote The Birthday Song?
According to the 1998 Guinness Book of World Records, “Happy Birthday to You” is the most recognized song in the English language, and its lyrics have been translated into at least 18 languages. But where did it come from?
In 1893, sisters Patty Hill and Mildred J. Hill wrote a song they called, “Good Morning to All,” which was part of the book Song Stories for the Kindergarten and was intended to be sung by students before classes began. As the song caught on across America, it developed a number of variations, becoming “Good Morning to You” and then, in 1924, Robert Coleman published a songbook and added a few extra lyrics that would quickly come to overshadow the original lines and came to be the rendition we all know today, “Happy Birthday to You.”