Everybody loves birthday cake, especially on their birthday

We all love birthday cake, right? The butter cream icing, the fluffy cake, the challenge and fun of blowing out the candles and the joyous sounds of happy birthday being serenaded sweetly to you. These are all but small distractions from the fact that we are another year older and further from youth. What is the most glorious reason that birthday’s are so special? It is the one day of the year that is all about you.

Well, in honor of my wife’s birthday I see it appropriate to understand the history of the birthday and all of the rituals and meanings. Why is it that we bake such delectable creations and place glowing rods atop? Why do we gorge ourselves on butter cream and yes, devil’s food? Why is it that my wife requests beautiful macaroons in lively colors from The Chef Case versus a towering cake with candles?

Research has shown that the birthday ritual stretches as far back as ancient Greece where round cakes were made to honor Artemis, the goddess of the moon. It was often decorated with a single candle to symbolize the glow of the moon and was believed that the smoke carried away your soul or at least your wishes and prayers to the gods above.

The German’s were the first to be credited with the birthday cake as a part of celebration. They focussed these festivities on children’s birthdays called Kinderfest. The candle was added as a way of symbolizing the light of life for youth. They evolved the cake from a symbol of worship to a culinary treat by using sweeter ingredients and incorporating layers of yumminess like fruits and chocolate. These cakes were named Geburtstagorten. It wasn’t until later in the 17th century that the birthday cake started to take on it’s true form that we know in the US with intricate designs of icing, flavor varieties and decorations.

Along with this great tasting treat we always have to add a bit of our culture. Superstitions and traditions are what make the birthday so much fun. Making a wish and blowing out all of your candles in one breath gives us the hope that your secret wish will come true. In medieval England people placed symbolic items like coins, rings and thimbles in the cake batter with the superstition that if you got the coin it was good luck, the thimble bad luck and the ring meant wedding bells in the future. If the cake fell while baking it was considered an omen of bad luck for the upcoming year. It seems only human that we add some bit of superstition into everything we do, why not a birthday?

Regardless of the past, the birthday cake, singing and candle lighting ceremonies thrive on. With so many choices in today’s world, how do we decide the best option – yellow, white, chocolate, double chocolate, cherry chip, rainbow, marbled, German chocolate, red velvet. Chocolate fudge, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, light chocolate, semi-sweet. My head is about to explode!

Well, the good news is that the birthday is the only day of the year that is all about you. It was created for you and is celebrated because of you. So sit back, have a slice of cake, a sip of whatever beverage you prefer and let everyone else remember that without you, there would be no reason to party.

Happy birthday, feliz cumpleanos, Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, joyeux anniversaire everyone and especially Holly.

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