And what’s with the candles?
Cultures all over the world have been celebrating special occasions with cake for thousands of years.
But many believe the tradition of birthday cakes started in Germany in the 1400s. Before that, they were primarily used to celebrate weddings or to honor the gods.
In the 17th century, people started decorating their birthday cakes with frosting, icing, flowers, and multiple layers.
But due to the cost, birthday cakes were mostly reserved for the wealthy until the industrial revolution, which made them cheaper and easier to produce.
What About the Candles?
In Ancient Greece, people brought cakes to the temple of Artemis, the goddess of the hunt.
These cakes were said to be decorated with candles that made them glow like the moon, a popular symbol associated with Artemis.
Many believe this is where the tradition of putting candles on a cake originated, but it’s tough to say for sure.
Others believe it started with the Germans.
Many point to Count Ludwig Von Zinzindorf’s birthday celebration in 1746 as proof. “There was a Cake as large as any Oven could be found to bake it, and Holes made in the Cake according to the Years of the Person’s Age, every on having a Candle stuck into it, and one in the Middle.”
In the 1700s, Germans also celebrated with birthday candles during Kinderfest, a birthday celebration for children. During these occasions, a single candle symbolizing the “light of life” was placed on the cake.
As you can see, the origins of birthday cakes and the candles that adorn them is pretty murky. But we’re sure glad the tradition stuck. Who doesn’t love a decadent cake on their birthday?