Where The World Gathers To Celebrate Every Day!
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Germans claim the first birthday cake dating back to the Middle Ages. They called the celebration Kinderfest in observance of a child’s birthday. The cake was more like a coarse bread that over time evolved into a sweeter treat called Geburtstagstorten which translates to birthday cakes.
Cakes became more elaborate in the 1800s, but only the wealthy could afford to celebrate and eat cake, too.
Actually, the proverb, “You can’t have cake and eat it, too,” has been minced up a bit over the years. Originally, the translation went, “You can’t eat your cake and have it, too.”
Ah, but back to birthday cake. By the 1900s, ingredients became affordable, and cake production increased. Let ’em eat cake. But in a good way. Let’s celebrate a birthday!
The ten most popular flavors of birthday cake are:
- Chocolate Chip
- Vanilla or yellow
- Red velvet
Now if you’re a foodie, these cakes might be a little bland for your palate. For example, where are the angel food cakes, devil’s food, tres leches or a tiramisu cake? If we’re going to celebrate, let’s celebrate!
Those pretty candles have been on the cake longer than we’ve been having birthday cake. Historians believe that the practice of putting candles on a cake started in ancient Greece. People at the time-honored Artemis by placing candles on a moon-shaped cake. Artemis was referred to as the Goddess of the Hunt, and the moon was a symbol associated with her. Greeks put candles on the cakes and believed the rising smoke carried their wishes and prayers upward to the gods. Applying the concept to birthdays, Germans used candles to represent the “light of life.”
Either traditions or a combination of both may be responsible for the candles on our birthday cakes. They may even be the reason we blow them out and make a wish.
In modern western cultures, candles are placed on the cake, and celebrants sing the Happy Birthday Song. In 1893, sisters from Kentucky, Patty and Mildred Hill, composed the song under the name Good Morning to All which later became the subject of a lawsuit.
On to the gifts! Around the world, traditions vary, but usually, gifts giving is steeped in religious tradition. Over time, these reasons change, and the religious factors fall away. We did do some gift-giving research if you plan to give birthday gifts around the world.
- In Japan, well-wrapped gifts are appreciated. No sloppy gift wrapping!
- Give flowers if you must in Russia but understand the language of flowers first.
- It may be rude to spit in many cultures, but in Kenya, it’s considered a blessing.
- Wine is a wonderful gift. In South Africa, if you give wine as a gift, know what you are doing. Otherwise, try a gift card.
- Stay away from giving clocks to your Chinese friends. In the Chinese language, the English word “clock” sounds like the word “death.”
- In India, if you give money as a birthday gift, it’s unlucky to give money in even numbers. If the gift is cash, make the total an odd amount, especially if the number ends in 1. That number signifies a new beginning. Even numbers mean an ending.