Why Do We Put Candles on Birthday Cakes?
Where does this tradition come from?
Birthdays are exciting. When I was younger I remember waking up early and tip going past my mother’s bedroom, down the stairs, and into the kitchen. My eight-year-old mind focused on one thing… CAKE. Birthday cakes and candles are a tradition in most countries but where did this tradition start? Why do we go an extra step by adding candles atop the cake?
Ceremonious cakes and candles have been around for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks would use cakes and candles when worshiping the goddess Artemis. They would bake honey cakes, place them on the cake and let the candles burn down to the base. The candles would not be blown out because it was believed that their smoke would carry their payers up to the gods. Germany is one of the first places to have begun celebrating children’s birthdays with cakes. Just like the Greeks, the candles were not blown out. They were lit in the morning and left to burn the entire day until the cake was eaten for dessert. As the industrial revolution made ingredients cheaper the practice spread.
It’s easy to understand why the practice became so popular as well. Science tells us that adding these ceremonious steps may make foods taste better. Study participants were broken into two groups and given a chocolate bar. One group was allowed to eat the chocolate bar right away while the second group was given a ritual to break the bar in its package before eating it and unwrap and eat each half of the bar one at a time. The delayed gratification caused them to enjoy the treat more than eating it right away.