beeswax birthday candles on a lovely birthday cake being blown out by two people

Why Do We Put Candles on Our Birthday Cakes?

We love our beeswax birthday candles at Honey Candles and we always use them on our birthday cakes. Many of my family members have birthdays in March and April. This spring my family gathered for our annual ‘spring’ birthday celebration.  It occurred to me that putting candles on a birthday cake is a rather odd tradition. So I hit the internet to find ‘the story’ behind birthday candles.

There were several versions of the origin of the tradition of birthday candles on cakes. Wonderpolis has one as good as any. See this link to read it in its entirety.

This is the summation:

Putting candles on birthday cakes is a long time tradition.  Ancient Greeks often burned candles as offerings to their gods and goddesses. Putting candles on a round cake to symbolize the moon was a special way to pay tribute to Artemis, the Greek moon goddess. Candles signify moonlight.

Long ago candles on cakes became an accepted tradition in Germany, too. A large candle placed in the center of a cake for the religious symbolized “the light of life.”  Some scholars think people may have believed that the smoke from the candles carried their wishes and prayers to gods who lived in heaven and the skies. They also suspect that it was believed the smoke helped to ward off evil spirits.

Today for different reasons we put candles on our birthday cakes. There is still a certain amount of superstition involved as well.  It’s not unusual that the birthday girl or boy must make a wish before blowing out the candles but not tell anyone what it is. If they do tell the wish will not come true.  If all the candles are blown out in one breath, the wish will come true - again, as long as they didn't tell anyone what they were wishing.  The candles left on the cake not blown out after one try are how many boyfriends or girlfriends you have. I guess you can't have your wish and have a boyfriend or girlfriend too!

Each family may have their own traditions around birthdays and birthday cakes. At our house we have to blow out our birthday candles and have our cake before any presents are opened. What’s the tradition in your home?

Published By Pat Cattermole

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