Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The Happy Birthday song is more than one hundred years old. It was written in 1893 by two sisters, Patty and Mildred Hill, who were schoolteachers in Louisville, Kentucky. The tune was originally a morning greeting to their students entitled "Good Morning To All." The lyrics were copyrighted in 1935, 11 years before Patty's death, and the ownership has swapped hands in multi-million dollar deals ever since. The current copyright is owned by Warner Communications. They purchased it in 1989 for more than $22 million dollars.
Happy Birthday is recognized around the world and has been translated into dozens of languages. It is one of the three most popular songs in the English language.
Birthday Parties and Celebrations
The earliest birthday parties were held because people believed evil spirits were particuarly attracted to people on their birthdays.
At first it was only kings who were recognized as important enough to have a birthday celebration. To protect them from harm, friends and family would to come be with the birthday person and bring good thoughts and wishes.
Giving gifts brought even more good cheer to ward off the evil spirits. As time went by, children became included in birthday celebrations. The tradition of children's birthday parties first started in Germany, Kinderfeste.
The largest private birthday party to ever happen was in 1970 for Colonel Harlan Sanders' 89th birthday. The event was attended by over 35,000 people.
One theory about the origin of the birthday cake is that it originated with the Greeks, who baked round cakes representing the full moon for their moon goddess, Artemis. They placed candles on the cake to make it glow, like the moon.
The Germans are also credited with the first cakes and candles. They used a sweet, layered cake and they put a large candle in the center of the cake to represent "the light of life." Some people believe the smoke from extinguished candles carries their birthday wishes up to heaven.