Tradition of Birthday Candles

Tradition of Birthday Candles
19 Oct 2013

As this site is named Counting Candles, it is only appropriate to research where the tradition of placing candles on a birthday cake comes from.

Greeks honored the moon goddess Artemis by taking round birthday cakes to the temple. The round cake represented the moon while the lit candles were used to light up the cake as a symbol of a glowing moon. One belief is that the smoke from the candles carried prayers up to Mount Olympus and to the gods.

The idea of counting candles on a birthday cake dates back to the Germans. In 1746, there was a large birthday festival in honor of Count Ludwig Von Zinzendorf’s birthday. For the ball, a large cake was made with one candle in the middle and candles all around representing each year of the Count’s life. The large candle in the middle is believed to represent the Light of Life in German culture.

Centuries later, the placing of either one candle for good luck or a number of candles representing age is a beloved tradition. Whatever the origin, the placing of candles on a birthday cake today is a celebration of the birthday girl or boy. Blowing out the candles is a fun tradition symbolizing the coming true of a birthday wish.

So go count your candles, and make every candle count!





As a working mom of twins, I look out for activities that are easy, quick and budget friendly with a creative flare. Likes to eat the frosting first!