I've always loved birthdays. Excitement ensues the minute some of our feet hit the floor, with enthusiastic spouses or kid-tackles in the morning, phone calls and social media notifications.
In our family, the celebration begins at the crack of dawn. Our kids are stirred awake by the glowing flicker of candles at their bedside. Their first tasks of the day include blowing out candles and eating cake for breakfast. It's a glorious tradition!
This week I celebrated a birthday. 30 again, how about that! With pure joy, I see it as an opportunity to pass along gifts to you, dear online friends. A few of my favorite books will be flying through the post and landing on the doorsteps of three lucky readers.
Did you know that birthdays weren't a big deal to our friends living in Bible times? Early Jews and Christian converts were more likely to celebrate their dates of death - the moment they passed from this world to the next. (Eccl. 7:1)
In fact, this is part of the reason we're not entirely sure when Jesus was born. It just wasn't important to the record-keepers of the time. Here are a few fun facts about the rituals we typically associate with the birthday celebration:
1. Candle-topped round cakes were a part of Greek culture and were eventually adopted by the Romans. Worshippers placed them on the temple stairs of Artemis (goddess of the wilderness, childbirth, and virginity). Blowing out the flames was a symbol of good luck. It was believed that wishes would be granted to the birthday boy or girl.
2. A popular reference to a birthday celebration in the Bible is found in Genesis. Some of us may remember the Pharaoh's displeasure with his baker. You can read more in Genesis 40:20-22.
3. The giving of gifts represented an act of offering to pagan gods. Not unlike our contemporary Christmas, the pagan ritual was re-imagined and integrated into Christian culture.
4. Birthday cakes can also be traced back to the lowlands of Scotland. They were called Nur-cakes, in celebration of an old-birth festival held around Christmas every year.
5. "May you live to be 120," is a birthday blessing given by Jews in remembrance of Moses. A long legacy of godly living is certainly something to be celebrated.
Want more? You can enjoy other fun birthday facts here:
May you live to be 120,
Believer. Wife. Mom. Writer. Marriage and Family Therapist. Accidental Speaker. Crossfitter and Total Book Nerd.
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