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Birthday Cakes March 25, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Food Drinks News.

Food historians are split on who deserves credit for inventing the birthday cake. Some say ancient Greeks made the first cakes with honey and bread.

Others say the first true birthday cakes were made in Germany. Sweetened bread dough was shaped in the likeness of the baby Jesus and dressed in swaddling clothes to commemorate his birth. Years later, Germans began using these cakes to celebrate their children’s birthdays.

The earliest birthday parties in history were held because it was feared that evil spirits were attracted to people on their birthdays. At first only kings were recognized as important enough to have a birthday celebration. To protect them from harm, friends and family would help celebrate their birthday, bringing them good wishes, thoughts and presents. Hats and noisemakers were used at birthday parties hoping to scare away the evil spirits.

There are a few possible explanations as to why we have candles on birthday cakes. Nobody is completely sure how the tradition started. One possible reason is because the ancient Greeks used to take round cakes, to represent the full moon, to the temple of their goddess of the moon, Artemis. The Greeks are said to have placed candles on the cake to make it look as if it was glowing like the moon.

Birthday candles were later placed on cakes to bring birthday wishes up to God. In ancient times, people prayed over the flames of an open fire. They believed that the smoke carried their thoughts up to the gods.

Today, we believe that if you blow out all your candles in one breath, your wish will come true.

Of course, a loud round of “Happy Birthday to You,” must accompany the candle blowing. At our house, the big debate was whether you sang before or after. The jury is still out on that one.

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