The Premise

So, a'ight, it's your father's birthday. He's a noder, you're a noder. The obvious thing? Make daddy proud by writing him a brand, spankin' new node.

Of course, you tell yourself, one node just won't do it. And one a day for the entire month is just excessive. So what you do is pick an arbitrary number - eighteen - and then justify it. Dad, I've known you for a grand total of eighteen wonderful years. So before the end of February, I'll be writing you eighteen equally wonderful nodes (that adds up to roughly fourteen good ones, three dripping with teenage angst, and at least one in which I get that skeptical-father look for deciding that I want to be a teacher. No, wait, a fireman. An FBI agent?). And in typical college kid fashion, I can nearly guarantee that they'll all be posted at some ridiculously early hour in the morning.

And as an appropriate, albeit cliched, beginning, your first birthday node will be about... wait for it... birthdays!

The Song

"Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Biiiiirthday Dear Friend/Lover/Person Sitting Two Tables Over and Blushing As The Waiter Starts Singing Along...
Happy Birthday to you!"

In close competition to that old morbid favorite, "Ring Around the Roses," the Happy Birthday song is generally one of the first that a growing kid learns. Those infamous four lines were originally written in 1893 as a classroom greeting entitled "Good Morning to All" by two Lousiville teachers - Mildred Hill, and Dr. Patty Hill - and was copyrighted in 1935. It currently holds the record for the greatest number of copyright infringements, as well as tying for the 'Most Irritating Song When Sung Non-Stop By A Two-Year-Old On A Cross-Country Road Trip' award in 1944 (the other candidate was "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer"). It was also published in "Song Stories for the Kindergarten" in 1893.

For those of you who are thinking of performing this masterpiece in a public setting, just remember Hack The Planet's witty slogan: "Don't Steal Music or Movies!" All you have to do is contact ASCAP or the Harry Fox Agency for the rights. Or don't. Because getting jail time for performing 'Happy Birthday to You' in public would make a kick-ass story to tell your friends.

"Good morning to you,
Good morning to you,
Good morning, dear children,
Good morning to all."

Can't you just see Julie Andrews warbling that at her fifty-seven new step-children in The Sound of Music?

Everyone's favorite birthday ditty wasn't written until 1935, and the identity of the author of those famous words remains shrouded in mystery even today. By the 80's it was generating roughly $1 million annually, and today it brings in approximately $2 million every year. Not bad for four mildly repetitive lines, eh? 

The Pastry

As it turns out, we don't bake a cake and blow out candles (See: saliva-flavored snacks) to make wishes. Instead, we do it to protect ourselves from the demons and to ensure our safety for the coming year. Hello, my name is Ancient Paranoia.

This tradition was begun in Greek times, when everyone was believed to have a protective spirit or daemon (that's 'demon' for all the 13-year-old Hot Topic hard core punk rocker wannabe's. Also, mom says to lay off the eye shadow). This spirit was believed to have a mystical relationship with the god on whose birthday the person was born.

The cake was made circular to represent the moon, and they were covered in candles to make them glow. They can also be used to distract your mildly-intoxicated Uncle Henry while the cake is being cut and distributed.

Also, it's a great day to test mom's artistic abilities - I recommend demanding a hand-decorated Pokemon cake (Gotta catch 'em all! Go, Blast-a-chu!), complete with every kind of sprinkles you can find following an exhaustive search of all the cabinets

The Par-tay

In Biblical times, because of slight calendar malfunctions, most people didn't have a set birthday. Instead, they took their cues from modern-day race horses, and celebrated their birthdays on the first day of the civil year (which would have been about September 1st, nicknamed Tishri 1st, the Feast of Trumpets). 

Today, many Jews view said feast, or Rosh Hashana, as representing the birthday of all mankind.  

The Romans were equally enthusiastic, believing that people are closer to the spirit world on their birthday and therefore more susceptible to witchcraft. And traditionally, birthday greetings can be used for both good or evil. So just smile to yourself next time you have to give Chris from The Office an obligatory 'happy birthday!' in the halls at work.

Back in the dark ages, before the great god Materialism revealed Himself to our misguided little world, birthdays were a time of giving. To honor one's personal angel or god, their altar was strewn with flowers and wreaths and other leafy arts and crafts. Sacrifices were also offered, in the grand old 'It's Your Birthday, So Kill A Cow!' fashion.

Dramatis Personae

Ok, you might ask, but what's so great about February 3? Well, some people were born...

1368 - Charles VI, King of France
1874 - Gertrude Stein
1904 - Pretty Boy Floyd, that outlaw hottie from Ar-can-saw
1907 - James Michener, a strong believer in quantity over quality and the bane of my 10th grade history class
1928 - Mr. Rogers. Yes, that one. Just another guy from the neighborhood.
1939 - Vladimir Yevgenyevich Preobrazhensky, Russian cosmonaut
1945 - Johnny Cymbal, self-proclaimed rocker with the dubious honor of also being known as Mr. Bass Man.
1967 - Natalie Hunter, Olympic Australian canoeist

...and some people died...

474 - Leo I, Byzantine Emperor
699 - Saint Werburgh
1014 - King Sweyn I of Denmark
1116 - King Coloman of Hungary
1959 - The Music, with the simultaneous deaths of The Big Bopper, Buddy Holly, and Ritchie Valens.
1998 - Karla Faye Tucker, another person who liked to kill people, was executed.

...and some stuff happened...

1690 - The first paper money in America was issued in Massachusetts
1783 - Uh... Spain recognized United States independence. Fiiiiinally!
1787 - Shays' Rebellion is crushed, ending an uprising that would prompt negotiations that would result in the drafting of the Constitution of the United States
1809 - The territory of Illinois was created
1815 - The first commercial cheese factory was created
1966 - Soviets land probe on the Moon
1986 - The Pope and Mother Teresa feed the sick, and bless some throats

And that's just a sampling of the rich, intricate history of this truly exceptional day. That's almost over. And I'm posting this birthday present with a whole ten minutes to spare. So, in conclusion, happy birthday, dad, and don't forget to hang some leafy protection against all those evil spirits.

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