Posted by Daniel on October 21, 2007, 10:11 am, in reply to "Re: Happy Birthday"
Thanks Linda, |
Wondering where the "many happy returns" comes from, got a couple different answers.
1) The happy returns on your birthday refer to solar returns - the moment when the sun returns to the zodiac sign and degree it occupied at your birth. A horoscope is drawn up for the precise moment of your solar return, in order to predict your year ahead - hopefully a happy one!
2) It began as an occult wish, recalling our birth and anticipating the next life: that we shall come back as, say Attila the Hun rather than Attila's horse, or Cleopatra rather than one of her eunuchs.
3) This phrase came into use when people revolved around their families (before the days of confuddling and befusing technological contraptions) and they would, when it came to their birthdays, go home to their families to celebrate with the family. When they said "many happy returns" it meant "We hope you have many more happy days like that returning to your family..."
4) Since the 18th century this has been used as a salutation to offer the hope that a happy day being marked would recur many more times. It is now primarily used on birthdays; prior to the mid 19th century it was used more generally, at any celebratory or festive event.
The first record I can find of it in print is in a letter written by Lady Newdigate in 1789 (published in Newdigate-Newdegate Cheverels in 1898):
"Many happy returns of ye day to us my Dr Love."
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