So, why do we blow out lit candles on a cake for our birthdays? It is believed the answer derives from German origin.
Christian Germans had used candles during a birthday celebration for children that traces back to the 1700s called Kinderfest. In this celebration, one candle was lit and placed on top of a cake to symbolize the child’s “light of life,” PLUS one to represent the upcoming years. The candles would have been lit all day and replaced if they had burnt out. At the end of the day, the child would blow out the candles and make a wish. It was believed that the smoke coming from the extinguished candles would help convey the wish up to God.
A Passage in an 18th century German manuscript titled “A True and Authentic Account of Andrew Frey,” tells of the traditions and practices of the Herrnhuters or Moravians. In it, the extravagant festival of Count Ludwig Von Zinzindorf in 1746 is recorded.
“There was a Cake as large as any Oven could be found to bake it, and Holes made in the Cake according to the Years of the Person’s Age, every one having a Candle stuck into it, and one in the Middle.”
According to this passage, we have been putting the wrong number of candles all along! 🙂