I tried to find information about when people started celebrating birthdays in the way we do today, but I haven't been able to find much that's specific. Probably because birthdays are another one of those cultural things that now everybody does, and nobody paid much attention as it slowly became pervasive.
What I've found, generally, is it wasn't until pretty recently -- probably the early 1900's -- when regular people started celebrating their birthdays. Until then, kings and queens, pharaohs, dignitaries, the people with money and power got to have birthdays.
I would bet that children started to get presents for their birthdays only after child labor laws were passed during the Industrial Revolution. (In the US, those laws really started to take hold in the 1910's and 1920's.)
But now, there's cake, and there are songs, and presents, and cards from old friends, and you get to wear funny hats if you want to, and maybe the dog will bark during the singing, and you might take a trip to the zoo, or to the ball park, and you might talk to people you haven't talked to in far too long, there might be hugs all around, and maybe a beverage of choice or two, there might be more songs and maybe a little more cake, and you might just have a good day through and through.
Famous people born on June 29:
- Julia Clifford Lathrop, social worker, 1858 (worked with Jane Addams in Chicago, helped found the first juvenile court, headed the US Children's Bureau)
- Antoine Saint-Exupery, French aviator and writer, 1900 (The Little Prince)
- Leroy Anderson, musician, 1909 (Syncopated Clock)
- John Toland, writer, 1912 (Pulitzer Prize for The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire)
- Slim Pickens, actor, 1919 (Dr. Strangelove, Blazing Saddles)
- Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, actor, 1933 (Keystone Comedies, Mabel & Fatty)
- Harmon Killebrew, baseball player, 1936 (Washington Senators, Minnesota Twins, Kansas City Royals)
- David Jenkins, Olympian, 1936 (figure skating, 1960 Olympics)
- Gary Busey, actor, 1944 (The Buddy Holly Story, A Star is Born)
- Dan Dierdorf, NFL football player and sportscaster, 1949 (offensive tackle for U of Michigan and St. Louis Cardinals; Monday Night Football)
- Fred Grandy, actor and politician, 1948 (Gopher on The Love Boat, Rep. R-Iowa, 1986 to present)
- Ian Pace, musician, 1948 (White Snake, Deep Purple)
- Colin Hay, musician, 1953 (vocals for Men at Work)
- Don Dokken, musician, 1953 (Dokken)
- Pedro Guererro, baseball player, 1956 (Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals)
- Leslie Browne, ballerina, 1958 (Turning Point)
- Sergey Kopylove, Olympiad, 1960 (cyclist, 1980 Olympics)
- Jean Francois Sencal, Olympiad, 1961 (rifle shooter, 1992 and 1996 Olympics)
- Angela and Amy Lakeburg, US Siamese twins, 1993, (separated August 20th)
Happy Birthday, Gopher!
www.historyorb.com, Famous Birthdays
Any Day in History, June 29 birthdays
Infoplease Almanad, Today's birthday
World Almanac for Kids, Historical Birthdays for June
Waterboro, Maine Public Library, June literary birthdays
photo of Gopher from "Why don't you dance with me -- I'm not limburger!"