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Why We Have Cake on Our Birthdays

With chocolate, marble, or ice cream, there are limitless birthday dessert options, and each is beautiful in its own delicious way. Chances are you have indulged in one of these at least for a birthday or two. But in between each delicious bite of frosting, have you ever stopped and pondered, “Why am I eating cake for all my birthdays? Why is this dessert suited to commemorate the day I was born?” It is because you are as amazing as the dessert itself.

It was the ancient Egyptians who have been credited with inventing the celebration of one’s birth. They believed when a pharaoh was crowned; they would become a god, so their coronation day was enormous. That was the day they were born a god.

The ancient Greeks borrowed the idea but thankfully figured that a dessert would make the celebration more meaningful. So they baked moon-shaped pastries to offer up to Artemis, the goddess of the moon, as a proper tribute. They decorated the cakes with lit candles to make the pastries light up like the moon. This tradition is the reason we light candles on our cakes even to this day.

For the modern version birthday parties, we are said to get their roots from the 18th-century German celebration Kinderfest, and on the mornings of children’s special day, they would receive a cake with lighted candles that would add up to their age, adding one. The extra candle was named the light of life, representing the hope that they would live another full year.

What followed was torture, and this was because nobody could eat birthday cake until after supper. The family would replace candles as they burn out throughout the day. Finally, as the moment came, the child of honor would make a wish and try and blow out all of their candles in one breath and eventually eat it. As with the modern tradition, a birthday child would never tell a soul; otherwise, the wish may not come true.

Since ingredients for cakes were quite expensive, this tradition did not become popular until the Industrial Revolution. More ingredients became cheaper due to more availability leading to some bakeries selling pre-baked birthday cakes. Now we enjoy these pastries for almost every occasion worthy of celebration or not. Dessert tastes continue to change as they probably always will, and who knows, maybe this year’s new cake will be a favorite for your birthday choice for years to come.

Six Sisters Stuff has tons of delicious recipes for cakes for birthdays and so many other desserts and treats.

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