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November 15, 2013

Ever Wonder How Your Ancestors Celebrated Birthdays?

Ever Wonder How Your Ancestors Celebrated Birthdays?
Our culture celebrates birthdays. But have we always done this? Many people in the 19th century had no clue what their actual date of birth was, therefore they could not celebrate a birthday. 

My ancestor Levi Peer wrote to his mother in the 1830s asking her when he was born as he needed that information. Had he not required it he likely would have gone his whole life not knowing the date. 

Let's face it, unless one was wealthy most of our ancestors were too busy struggling to survive to worry about a birthday. Birthday celebrations seem to have jumped into common use in the Victorian age and have been carried on since then.

As a child I do not recall having one single birthday party. I don't remember other children coming to our home to celebrate with me. In fact I don't recall anything special on my birthdays except I suppose I was given a small gift. When I was 10  my new sister-in-law who was just 18 years old, was horrified to find out I had never had a birthday cake and so she made one just for me. I was thrilled to have my own special cake with candles. That's the only time I had a cake on my birthday. 

Which brings me to today. It's my birthday and even though as each year passes I sometimes wish I could be like Benjamin Button, time does march on. A new number is added to our age. To help me through this one, I've asked insisted that hubs get a birthday cake for me. That's right, I want a cake this year. I've never had one just for me since that 10th birthday. I think it's time! 

Hubs has been a bit worried about accomplishing this task as I have multiple food allergies and so I have very specific requirements for what kind of cake I want. We live in a rural community surrounded by small towns and the local stores do not do custom cakes. I've told him I will even accept a couple of nice cupcakes as long as they are the flavour I want (lemon icing, white cake or white icing, lemon cake)

After I finish this blog post I'm also taking the day off. Normally I work 7 days a week on my books, my websites, my blogs and my genealogy but today I'm treating as a special day to do whatever I feel like. And that just might be lying on the couch watching movies all day so please don't anyone disturb me unless you're calling or writing to wish me a Happy Birthday. And if you're dropping by please bring cake. :-)



Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Lorine!!!! Have a wonderful day!!!!

Rosemary Neeb said...

Happy Birthday Lorine and enjoy your day! :)

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday !!!

Peg said...

Well said. Happy birthday and Happy Year !!
Hope you love your cake.

@FlabbergastedMa said...

Happy birthday!

Every birthday for the kids they get a Duncan Hines lemon cake (w/ milk substitued for water & last couple years applesauce substituted for oil) and a Chocolate cake (made same way) - growing up I always had lemon cake too.

I never had bday parties with friends growing up - being born Oct 11th - it was always incorporated into the family Thanksgiving.

bgwiehle said...

Happy Birthday, Lorine!
We celebrated our birthdays when I was a child, but I think I had only one party with friends from school. Summer break was a difficult time to get hold of people in rural areas except in church or as close neigbours.
On my mother's side, they celebrated name days. Everyone with the same given name celebrated on the same day, regardless of the actual birth date.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Love the idea of name days! I'd have been celebrating alone since I have a pretty unusual name :-)

Zeke Zang said...

There's possibly another reason for not celebrating birthdays. Just as with Christmas, celebrating a birthday was an unacceptable practice for Christians for most of the time from Christ through the early to mid 1800's or so. The reasoning for these non-participations was based on the Bible's focus on the importance of one's day of death rather than birth, i.e., what sort of person one had proven to be (especially 'spiritually'). In addition, the only two mentions of birthday celebrations in the Holy Scriptures resulted in the deaths of godly or innocent individuals.