The Birthday Cake's Ancient Greek Origins

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Have you ever wondered why we stick candles in perfectly good cakes and set fire to them every year? The birthday cake has a long and murky backstory, but experts most often pinpoint its origin in Ancient Greece. The daughter of Zeus and twin sister of Apollo, Artemis was the goddess of the hunt and the moon. To honor her, Greeks would bring cakes in offering, making them round and adorning them with lit candles to help them resemble the glow of the full moon. Of course, these candle-studded cakes weren't associated with birthdays until much later with the German Kinderfest in the late 18th century. These events celebrated children with cakes topped with one candle for each year the child had been alive, plus one in the hopes they'd live another year. These celebrations also involved blowing out the candles and making a wish, a practice that some say also hearkens back to religious tradition: smoke was believed to be a vehicle to carry prayers up to the gods. We've collected some awesome videos on this topic. Watch them now to learn more.