Birthday Cakes & Candles

There are a few possible explanations as to why we have candles on birthday cakes, nobody is completely sure how the tradition started. One possible reason is because the ancient Greeks used to take cakes (round to represent the full moon) to the temple of their goddess of the moon, Artemis. The Greeks are said to have placed candles on the cake to make it look as if it was glowing like the moon.

The custom of lighting candles originated with people believing that the gods lived in the sky and by lighting candles and torches they were sending a signal or prayer to the gods so they they could be answered. When you blow out the candles and make a wish this is another way of sending a signal and a message.

It has also been claimed that the Germans invented birthday cakes, and celebrated birthdays with a cake called "Geburtstagorten". The Germans were known to have been skilled candlemakers and may have put small candles on their cakes, possibly for religious reasons

Birthday Parties

The earliest birthday parties in history were held because it was feared that evil spirits were attracted to people on their birthdays. At first it was only kings who were recognized as important enough to have a birthday celebration. To protect them from harm, friends and family would help celebrate their birthday by spending time with the birthday person, bringing them good wishes, thoughts and presents. Hats and noisemakers were used at birthday parties, with the thought that the noisemakers were also a way to scare away the evil spirits.

Birthday Balloons

The first balloons are believed to have been children's toys, made from animal bladders and/or intestines, often filled with water. The Aztecs used to blow air into the bowels of sacrificed cats and twisted them into animal shapes and presented these to the gods as a sacrifice. Toy balloons were introduced by pioneer rubber manufacturer Thomas Hancock.
    European jesters and troubadors were said to sometimes inflate the entrails of recently butchered animals and "entertain" with them. This is where the association of modern-day balloons with celebrations is throught to have originated.

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