White, strawberry, chocolate, German chocolate: There are lots of types of birthday cake across the globe, each unique in its own sweetest way. Odds are, you’ve spoilt in one during at least one (hopefully all) of your birthday bashes. But in between delightful bites of cake and icing, have you ever paused and questioned, “Why am I eating this? What makes this dessert fit to commemorate the day of my birth?”
This Is because you are as worthy and adored as gods. Type of.
The ancient Egyptians are credited with “discovering” the celebration of birthdays. They thought when rulers were capped; they turned to the gods, so their coronation day was a really big occasion. That was their “birth” as a god.
Ancient Greeks borrowed the custom, but fairly understood that a dessert would make the celebration all the more expressive. So, they baked moon-shaped cakes to offer up to Artemis, goddess of the moon, as a compliment. They adorned them with ignited candles to make the cakes appear like shining moon. Hence, the reason we light our birthday cakes on fire.
Modern birthday parties are known to source their roots from the 18th century German celebration “Kinder fest.” On the dawn of a child’s birthday, he or she would get a cake with lit candles that added up to the kid’s age, along with one. This extra candle was termed as the “light of life,” denoting the hope of another full year survived.
And then, torment—because no one could take in the cake until after dinner. The family
substituted the candles as they burned out throughout the day. Lastly, when the moment arrived, the birthday child would make a wish; try to blow out all the candles in one breath, and crack in. Like modern tradition, the birthday girl or boy wouldn’t tell another person the wish so as to make it come true.
Since the ingredients to make cakes were really costly, this birthday custom didn’t become prevalent until the Industrial Revolution. More ingredients were ready to choose from, which made them inexpensive, and bakeries even began selling pre-baked cakes.
In today’s times when ordering an anniversary cake or birthday cake is a call away, many of us doesn’t even realize the tradition behind the use of these cakes at various occasions. There remains always a big mystery behind various things that happen around us and we don’t come to know the truth until we try to find it out.