As long as I remember, every year I have been tremendously excited for my birthday – a celebration of my life, around the people I cherish the most, wishing for something so secret in my heart and blowing the candles decorating a cake, as if the smoke would rise my wishful desires to the sky.
But when did the tradition of setting candles on top of a cake started? I never asked this question before and, as I was ready to post a photograph of beautiful birthday candles, I started to wonder why candles are a big part of any birthday celebration. Who was the first person to decorate a cake with candles?
While the answer to this question is not completely clear, some believe that the tradition of birthday candles began in ancient Greece. There are references to people adorning lit candles on cakes as an offering to Artemis, the goddess of the hunt. These lit candles were to glow like the moon, a symbol of the goddess.
In the 1700s, the Germans also celebrated with birthday candles during Kinderfest, a birthday celebration for children. A single birthday candle was lit and placed on the cake to symbolize the “light of life.”
While there are certain sacred and celebratory reasons for lighting candles, other cultures believe that smoke form candles can carry prayers or wishes to heaven. This, of course, is the closest to today’s tradition of making wishes before blowing out your birthday candles.
More than a decoration, birthday candles also serve as a reminder that another year of life has gone by. They symbolize a new beginning and the wishful desire to pursue new dreams.
Let’s take a time to reflect, to close our eyes, to never stop wishing and to blow the candles.