Birthday Traditions: Why We Cut Cake and Blow Out Candles

Ever wonder why we stick candles in cakes and set them ablaze to celebrate another year of life? The beloved birthday cake comes with a long history and much of it has to do with worshiping gods. That’s right: ageless, immortal beings. 

History of the Birthday Cake 

Ancient Greeks birthday moon goddess tradition

Putting candles on birthday cakes is a tradition that’s been around for a long time. It can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks who burned candles as offerings to their gods and goddesses. For birthdays, they baked round honey cakes to symbolize the moon and topped them off with candles as a special way to pay tribute to the moon goddess, Artemis. Lit candles were added to represent the reflected moonlight, and some ancient cultures believed the smoke from the candles could carry prayers up to the gods.

Modern Day Birthday Celebrations 

Birthday Cake with Candles

These days, birthdays are often associated with children rather than adults. According to some historic records, the modern child’s birthday cake began with the German Kinderfest in the 15th century. These events celebrated children with cakes topped with one candle for each year of life, plus one in the hopes of the child living another year. They also involved blowing out candles after making a wish, which goes back to the previously mentioned religious traditions. 

Surprisingly, blowing out birthday candles is still a lively tradition, even with today’s parents so concerned about germs and sugar intake. Studies have shown that when someone blows out candles, the bacteria atop the cake multiplies an average of 14 times. That goes to show how far we’ll go to celebrate each other! 

Acknowledging You 

Even though the reasons we honor our birthdays might have changed and can be different for each of us, the yearly festivities stem from an interesting beginning. Overall, the anniversary of your birth presents a chance to remember the day a major event occurred, to give thanks, and to reflect upon your miracle of a journey so far. You’re here to live life to the fullest! 

Did You Know?

A person’s golden birthday, also referred to as their “lucky birthday” or “champagne birthday,” occurs when they turn the age of their birthday. Example: Turning 20 on the 20th day of the month.

How do you celebrate you and your loved ones? Leave a comment below and be sure to check out our selection of unique birthday gifts!

2 Replies to “Birthday Traditions: Why We Cut Cake and Blow Out Candles

  1. This is an interesting post. A birthday cake is a cake eaten as part of a birthday celebration in many world traditions. Variations of the typical birthday cake include birthday cupcakes.


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