#7 Why do we cut cake on birthdays?

Why is it cake? Why are there candles on the cake? Why is it all on a birthday?

#7 Why do we cut cake on birthdays?
Photo by Lan Gao / Unsplash

BIG welcome to this yummy 7th edition of our fun + informative newsletter 🍰

Every Wednesday, we share:

  • 🤯 A WOAHHH! fact
  • 💭 A Quiz for you (with the answer at the end)
  • 🤗 An Update about us
  • ❤️ A Comment that made our week

🤯 WOAHHH! fact

One of our readers, Mubarika, had asked this question:

And it got us thinking too. Why is it cake? And why are candles being lit on the cake? And why is it all on a birthday? We found it out for you:

One of the most popular stories begins in Ancient Greece:

People brought round cakes decorated with lit candles to the temple of Artemis - the goddess of hunting and nature. The moon was a symbol associated with Artemis.

🌝Why a round cake? To symbolise the round moon.

🎂Why the lit candles? To make the cake shine like the moon.

It was also believed that the smoke of the candles carried the people's wishes to the heavens. That's how "make a wish before blowing out the candle" started.

If we head to Ancient Rome, we realise that cakes were usually only served at weddings. These cakes were just flat circles made from flour and nuts.

During the 15th century AD, German bakeries introduced single-layered cakes for birthday celebrations in the market. This banished the ritual of cutting cakes only at weddings.

Another story of cakes on birthdays comes from the popular 18th-century celebration in Germany called “kinderfeste” (meaning "children's party" - yup the same "kinder" used in kindergarten!).

A birthday party in Germany, from a 1930s postcard

On the morning of a child’s birthday, he or she would receive a cake from the family with lit candles. The number of candles on the cake = Kid's age + 1. This one extra candle was called the “light of life,” representing the hope of another, upcoming year lived.

Like contemporary practices, the birthday child would blow out the candles on the cake. It was believed that successfully extinguishing all the candles in one breath would make the birthday wish come true.

However, cakes were only available to the very wealthy for a long time. Birthday cakes became affordable due to the Industrial Revolution and the spread of more materials and goods.

🔫 Quiz for you

In which city and state in India was the first cake baked? It was a Christmas cake to be precise.

This was the place. A bakery by the similar name still exists:

🤗 This week at APH (Arey Pata Hai?!)

We get a lot of comments & messages on how you all want to join us in our quizzes. Promise in 2024 we will figure out all the logistics for this event and host a grand-level quiz with you! 🏆

But here is our first attempt of playing a proper quiz with more than 2 people in it haha.

We all made our teams from friends & family, each team drafted their questions and we all played a quiz game together. It was SO MUCH FUN!

Can't wait to play this with you all soon. This video will be out on our YouTube today. It will need all your love❤️

Lesson learnt: Playing with more than 2 people is also toooo much fun😅🤗

💌 A comment that made our week

Cannot really post 5 videos per days haha. But feels less lonely and very gratifying to know there is a good demand for quantity as well :)

Thank you, Priyanshu :)

✅ Quiz answer

Kerala it is! It was made by Mambally Bapu and the bakery he started - which is still going strong in Tellichery (now Thalassery).

In 1883, a few days before Christmas, Murdoch Brown, a British planter walked into the bakery with a rich plum cake he had brought from England. He asked Bapu to taste the cake and make one like it. And the rest is history!

👋 See you next Wednesday!

Happy holidays & Merry Christmas to you🎄

Team APH

PS: We personally revert to every single reply on this newsletter. Waiting to know if you liked it :)

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Read all the previous 6 editions here. Promise they are all equally interesting🤩

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