A little bit of History


The Romans celebrated ‘dies natales’ or birthdays which included the birthdays of themself, family and friends with giving gifts and banquets.

Birthday CelebrationsIn the early days of christianity the celebration of birthdays was considered a sin and a pagan practice, probably related to the fact that the pagan romans enjoyed celebrating birthdays with banquets.

Origen Adamantius, a early Christian writer(c.185-254) states : ‘It would be a sin to consider celebrating the birth, even of that of Christ.’

This view only started to change later on, and by medieval times the custom was that whilst ordinary people celebrated their name day, the nobility celebrated their birthday.

Birthday Traditions

Birthday CelebrationsBirthday Cake

The history of cake dates back to ancient times. The first cakes were more bread-like and sweetened with honey and often had nuts and dried fruits added.
The Oxford English Dictionary traces the English word cake back to the 13th century. It is a derivation of 'kaka', an Old Norse word. These cakes could last for many months and be used as sustenance during the winter.

In medieval England, tokens, such as coins and thimbles, were baked inside the birthday cake, this tradition has since died out and only continues with cooking the Christmas pudding.

It was not until the middle of the 19th century that cake as we know it today (made with extra refined white flour and baking powder instead of yeast) arrived on the scene. The Cassell's New Universal Cookery Book [London, 1894] contains a recipe for layer cake.

Although Birthday cakes were originally enjoyed by middle and upper classes. However, the industrial revolution enabled the less wealthy to afford cakes for special occasions as technology during this period made cakes cheaper and more easily produced.

Birthday cakes were generally round in shape symbolising the cyclical nature of life. They are now produced in all manner of shapes and sizes designed to reflect the individuals’ interests.


Birthday Candles

Birthday CandlesBirthday candleswere originally placed on cakes to bring birthday wishes to God. In ancient times, people prayed over the flames of an open fire. They believed that the smoke carried their thoughts up to the gods. Today, in England birthday cakes are decorated with the number of candles equal to the age of the individual whose birthday it is. Traditionally, the birthday person makes a private wish, which is supposed to be realized if all the candles are extinguished in a single breath.


The Card

Birthday CelebrationsSending birthday cards is a custom that began in England over 100 years ago. Today, millions of cards are sent around the world each year to wish family and friends a happy birthday.
The first Birthday cards were handmade and given to close family members or loved ones to mark the occasion.. There are some wonderful examples of romantic Victorian cards produced with lace, ribbon, silk and embroidery. But the first printed cards leading to the establishment of mass production has been credited to Henry Cole in 1843.
Henry Cole (later to become Sir Henry Cole) asked artist John Calcott Horsely to create a painting that could be printed in quantity for him to give to all his friends at Christmas, this proved to be so successful that he realised he could apply the concept to other celebrations including birthdays.
The introduction of the uniform Penny Post service in 1840 increased the popularity, of printed cards leading to the huge industry it is today.


The Party

Birthday CelebrationsOriginally, people wished each other well on birthdays to ward off evil spirits. It was believed that it was easier for evil spirits to harm a person on their birthday and one way to prevent it from happening was to gather together and have a party, offering up well wishes and gifts for the person’s future collectively. This led to the birthday party as we now know it.


The Bumps

When someone has a birthday their friends give them the "bumps" they hold the birthday person by the legs and under the arms then raise them up and down bumping them gently on the floor The number of bumps given is one for each year plus an extra one for luck.

Milestone Birthdays

Milestone birthdays are such a staple of the English culture and the spur for big celebrations. The ones with a zero behind them tend to be a time of reflection on how life’s going and planning how to go forward.

Coming of age birthdays

Birthday CelebrationsTraditionally in England this was celebrated when a man turned 21. He was given the ‘key of the door’ symbolising that he could come and go as he pleased.By the 1970’s as opinions changed this was also starting to be celebrated by women.

In 1969 when the age at which a person legally became an adult dropped to 18, the 18th birthday was celebrated instead of or as well as their 21st birthday – a custom that continues today. This date officially marks the end of childhood. The person is allowed to vote, get married without parental consent and buy a drink in the pub. Hence the reason why traditional gifts include keys, tankards and gasses.

Although the 18th Birthday is now celebrated instead of the 21st birthday, 21 is still viewed as a significant milestone by many. For instance Prince William celebrated his 21st birthday with a party at Windsor Castle, This African themed event was attended by 300 guests. Furthermore, a coin, stamp and stieff bear were some of the items commissioned to mark the occasion.

90th birthday

In England, reaching 90 is a major achievement as the average life expectancy is 78.9 for men and 82.9 for women. Ninety years of life experiences to pass down the generations inspiring them with history and events.

100th birthday

Birthday CelebrationsIt was King George V who first sent out a message to someone on the occasion of their 100th birthday in 1917. At the time, messages of congratulation were sent as telegrams by the Royal Mail’s Inland Telegram Service. In the 1940s these were renamed Royal Court Telegrams, and a Royal Crest was added to the top of the page.

In 1999, the Royal Court Telegram was discontinued and a greetings card featuring a personalised message was sent instead. The front of the card bears a picture of Her Majesty which changes every few years so those who are fortunate enough to receive second and further cards have different cards.

Around 1,800 birthday messages are sent each year to UK and Commonwealth citizens.

A further congratulatory message is sent when the person reaches105 and every year thereafter.

If the person is resident in the United Kingdom and receiving the state pension they will automatically receive this through the post otherwise there is a form that will need to be completed and send it no sooner than three weeks prior to the anniversary date to: The Anniversaries Office, Buckingham Palace, London SW1A 1AA. You can download the form from the Internet at www.royal.gov.uk

The Queens Birthday Celebrations

The Queen celebrates two birthdays each year. Her actual birthday is on the 21 April, but she also celebrates an official birthday which is held on a Saturday in June. All British monarchs have been given the option of having two birthdays since 1748.if their birth date is not in the summer. This is because there will be a better chance of good weather for the Trooping the Colour; the traditional parade carried out on the monarchs birthday.

The Queens Official Birthday

Birthday CelebrationsThe Official celebrations include the Trooping the Colour where Her Majesty is joined by other members of the Royal Family. This impressive display of pageantry is carried out by troops from the Household Division (Foot Guards and Household Cavalry) on Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall. Over 1400 officers and men are on parade, together with two hundred horses; over four hundred musicians from ten bands and corps of drums march and play as one.

Birthday CelebrationsAt precisely 11 o’clock the Royal precession arrives. During the ceremony, the Queen is greeted by a Royal salute and carries out an inspection of the troops. For many years The Queen rode side-saddle, on her favourite horse Burmese whom she had ridden in every Trooping the Colour since 1969. The Queen stopped riding in the parade in 1986 after the retirement of Burmese, Since then the QueenBirthday Celebrations has ridden in a carriage.

After the massed bands have performed a musical ‘troop’, the escorted Regimental Colour is carried down the ranks.

The parade route extends from Buckingham Palace along The Mall to Horse Guards Parade, Whitehall and back again.Birthday Celebrations

After the event, the Royal Family gathers on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to watch an RAF flypast.

The Royal Gun Salute

The queen also receives a gun salute to mark her birthday. The number of rounds fired in a Royal salute depends on the place and occasion.

The basic Royal salute is 21 rounds which takes place in Windsor Great Park. In Hyde Park an extra 20 rounds are added because it is a Royal Park.

At the Tower of London 62 rounds are fired on Royal anniversaries (the basic 21, plus a further 20 because the Tower is a Royal Palace and Fortress, plus another 21 'for the City of London').

Queen was taking her birthday weekend off to spend it with her family as well as to enjoy her favourite pastime - horseracing.

The Queens Actual Birthday

The Queen usually spends her actual birthday privately with her family and on accession enjoying her favourite pastime – horseracing. However, the occasion is still marked publicly by gun salutes at at midday: a 41 gun salute in Hyde Park, a 21 gun salute in Windsor Great Park and a 62 gun salute at the Tower of London.

Flowers, Zodiac and Birthstones

Month Birth Stone Flower
January Garnet Carnation
February Amethyst Violet
March Aquamarine, Bloodstone Daffodil
April Diamond Daisy
May Emerald Lily of the Valley
June Pearl, Moonstone Rose
July Ruby, Carnelian Larkspur
August Peridot, Sardonyx Gladiolus
September Sapphire Aster/Forget-me-not
October Opal, Marigold
November Topaz, Citrine Chrysanthemum
December Turquoise Poinsetta

Zodiac Signs

Sign Date Symbol
Aquarius 21 January – 18 February The Water Bearer
Pisces 19 February – 21 March The Fish
Aries 22 March – 20 April The Ram
Taurus 21 April – 21 May The Bull
Gemini 22 May – 21 June The Twins
Cancer 21 June – 22 July The Crab
Leo 23 July – 22 August The Lion
Virgo 23 August – 22 September The Virgin
Libra 23 September – 23 October The Scales
Scorpio 24 October – 21 November The Scorpion
Sagittarius 22 November – 21 December The Archer
Capricorn 22 December – 21 January The Goat