We’ve been celebrating birthdays for such a long time that they seem like the most sensible of celebrations. A reminder of the day you spawned into the world, a day you can feel special about yourself for merely existing, a consolation price that everyone(at least from the first world) gets for playing the game of life. Continuing this train of sensibilities, it only makes sense that you treat yourself on this special day. And what better way to treat yourself than with a sugary delight? Sweet taste has been associated with happiness and safety even before we had evolved enough to walk on two legs instead of all fours. But a birthday celebration could not be some cheap ass piece of candy, it had to be something grand and ceremonious. Enter the birthday cake.
Birthday cakes have been a tradition since the Ancient Romans. The idea of celebrating the date of your birth is a pagan tradition. In fact, many Christians didn’t celebrate birthdays historically, because of that link to paganism. Pagans thought that evil spirits lurked on days like birthdays as they were major life events.
Which is a good origin story and makes sense well up-until the point you factor in these flaming bastards.
If you think about it keeping aside the context of doing it because “thats how its always been done.”, the whole idea of birthday candles seems borderline retarded. Fire is meant to cook food, the cake has already been cooked. Yet, you still set it on fire like the sick pyromaniac that you are. And thats not even the messed up part. Birthday candles leave all sorts of goodies on your cake such as wax deposits(which may or may not be toxic), unburnt carbon and legions of germs that the snotty birthday boy deposits on blowing on the candle. Heck, in 2013 the Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) declared that children should no longer be allowed to blow out candles on birthday cakes at parties because of the amount of germs it transfers onto the cake. Keep in mind that all this fuss is about the freaking candle which has no impact whatsoever on the flavor of the cake. Now that you know this, it only makes sense to wonder why the fuck did we start doing this.
While there are several theories behind the origin of birthday cake candles, heres the coolest one.
Many religions have held the belief that fire and smoke carry prayers to heaven. This could have been the basis of the blowing-candles-before-you-make-a-wish tradtion. As for the candles themselves some believe that the tradition of birthday candles began in Ancient Greece, when people brought cakes adorned with lit candles to the temple of Artemis, the goddess of the hunt.
Who is almost as hot as the young justice character with the same name.
White goat was Artemis’s sacrifice of choice, there was a festival called Mounukhia, during which the Athenians would offer Artemis round cakes topped with a circle of tiny torches. These cakes were called apmhiphontes which translates to “shining all around”. The candles were lit to make them glow like the moon, a symbol associated with Artemis.
Oh and if the battle of Salamis doesn’t ring a bell, its the war thats depicted in 300: Rise of an Empire.