Blowing the birthday candles has been a special tradition followed around the globe since centuries ago. The grand celebrations of the day begin with the person, who celebrates the birthday, blowing the candles that are on the cake. However, recent researches have revealed a rather 'burning' side of this tradition which is enjoyed by people of all ages.
The scientific fraternity urges people to give up this tradition for the sake of health and well being. It has been found out that when the candles are blown out, the number of bacteria in the vicinity of the cake would be increased by an alarming 1400 percentage. This discovery, which is likely to upset quite a few, was reported by the researchers of the Clemson University in the United States of America.
Birthday cakes are believed to be the contribution of ancient Rome. However, the practice to light candles over the cake began in ancient Greece. The tradition of cutting a birthday cake and blowing out the candles are centuries old, though there aren’t any credible documents to estimate the exact era. It is, however, believed that like all the ancient traditions, this one too had begun in the ancient Greek civilization. A group of historians firmly believe that this tradition has got something to with Artemis, the Greek Goddess of moon. The sixth day of every lunar month is celebrated as the birthday of Goddess Artemis. It is believed that the people of the locality used to visit her temple with cakes that are lit with candles. The candle light represented the graceful moonlight that the idol stands for. This must be the inspiration behind lighting candles on birthday cakes. Another group of people believed that the smoke formed, when they blow out the candles, would carry their prayers and wishes to the Lord’s abode.
It was believed in the past that evil spirits would visit the person on their birthdays. The family and friends would gather around the person and would sing and dance and make loud noise to scare away the spirit. These gatherings later got transformed into grand birthday celebrations.
It has been found out that birthdays were celebrated with lit candles over cakes in Germany from 18th century onwards. They used to refer these candles as the ‘light of life’. The details of a birthday celebration recorded in 1746 perfectly narrate this tradition.
The tradition of blowing the birthday candles has been attributed to the Swiss as well. According to an article published in the Folklore journal in 1881, this tradition has its roots in a superstition followed by the middle class families in Switzerland. Later, the number of candles lighted on the cake denoted the age of the person celebrating the birthday. A majority of people still believe that if the person blow out the candles by making a wish in his/her minds, it would surely be fulfilled. However, the catch is that they shouldn’t reveal what they have wished for, to anyone else.