Magazine article USA TODAY

Happy Birthday to You. (Your Life)

Magazine article USA TODAY

Happy Birthday to You. (Your Life)

Article excerpt

With more than 5,000,000 birthdays occurring each week in the U.S. (or over 700,000 each day), they are America's No. 1 reason to celebrate. Here is a bit of history on birthday celebrations and traditions, supplied by The Pillsbury Company:

* Historians believe that birthday celebrations date back to the invention of the calendar in 4000 B.C., when it became possible to keep track of time and therefore a person's age. Initially, just kings and other nobility celebrated birthdays because they were the only ones with records to keep track of their births. Some historians theorize that these early birthday bashes resulted in the custom of wearing birthday "crowns" as time went on.

* In pagan cultures, individuals often feared their birthdays because they believed that they were more likely to encounter evil spirits when they experienced a change in their daily lives. As a result, family and friends surrounded the person of honor on his or her birthday with laughter and joy in order to protect him or her from such entities.

* Instead of gifts, the first people to celebrate birthdays brought positive thoughts and wishes for the upcoming year. …

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