For a sizeable chunk of the world, a birthday party without cake is inconceivable. They make the occasion much more fun and a communal experience that all your guests can partake in. Due to their popularity, birthday cakes have evolved over the years to come in a broad range of flavours and types. There’s even been an uptick of people requesting affordable customised cakes. Parents everywhere have had to get innovative when thinking about where to purchase their kid’s birthday cake in Singapore just to keep up. But have you ever questioned the origins of this delicious but very specific tradition? And how did it become so widespread and normalised?
Keep reading to find out!
The ancient origins
The idea of celebrating your day of birth originated in Ancient Egypt. Their coronation day was a fairly big deal because the ancient Egyptians believed that pharaohs become gods once they were crowned. That marked their "birth" as a deity.
The custom was adopted by the Ancient Greeks, who recognised that adding dessert would enhance the celebration. In order to pay homage to Artemis, the goddess of the moon, they baked moon-shaped cakes. They even adorned the cakes with lit candles to make them sparkle like the moon.
Where does the cake come in?
The German festival "Kinderfest" existed in the eighteenth century and is credited with inspiring modern birthday celebrations. The tradition of Kinderfest was motivated by an ancient German belief that kids were particularly vulnerable to harm from evil spirits. (especially on their birthdays). As such, a cake with lit candles that tallied up to the child's age (plus one) was given to the child the morning of their birthday. The extra candle was called the "light of life," signifying the promise of living another year to the fullest.
The cakes weren't allowed to be eaten until after dinner, and the candles were replaced throughout the day as soon as they were burned through. Finally, after dinner had been consumed, the time would come for the child to make their wish and attempt to extinguish all the candles with one breath – after which they could finally devour their cake. Just like today, children never spoke their wishes aloud because they believed they wouldn't come true if they did.
This birthday tradition didn't catch on until the Industrial Revolution because cake ingredients were quite costly. The availability of more components reduced their cost, and bakeries even began to offer pre-baked cakes. Nowadays, we eat cakes for almost any event, festive or not.
Most cultures around the globe regard birthdays as a significant event, and there are numerous holidays and festivals that include cake as part of the celebration. You can have a very non-traditional birthday and still have a cake that defies expectations – owing to the versatility of this dessert.
Birthday cakes have come a long way since their humble beginnings in ancient Greece. Today, we can enjoy cakes anytime we want and in myriad forms. Yet there's something undeniably special about waiting for your birthday to get your special treat and sharing that joy with your loved ones. At Yours Sincerely Bakery, we understand this feeling and do everything we can to get you truly unique and delicious cakes, whatever the occasion. Whether you're looking for a fun pinata cake or a money pulling cake, we've got you covered. Contact us today to learn more!