Nugget of Knowledge: Birthday customs

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The idea of celebrating a birthday came from the ancient Egyptians

(WYTV) – Where did our favorite birthday traditions come from?

The idea of celebrating a birthday came from the ancient Egyptians. They believed when pharaohs were crowned, they became gods so their coronation day was a pretty big deal — it was their “birth” as a god.

The ancient Greeks borrowed the tradition and changed it to the person’s actual birthday. They also added dessert to make the celebration all the more meaningful.

The Greeks baked moon-shaped cakes to offer up to Artemis, goddess of the moon, as a tribute. They decorated them with lit candles — something that’s now become a tradition to us — to make the cakes shine like the moon.

The modern birthday party has its origin in the 18th century German celebration “kinderfeste.”

On the morning of a child’s birthday, he or she would receive a cake with lit candles that added up to the child’s age — plus one. That extra candle was the “light of life,” representing the hope of another full year ahead.

They had to wait for the cake until after dinner and the candles burned all day long, the family replacing them as they burned out.

Then after dinner, the birthday child made a wish and tried to blow out all of the candles in one breath, not telling anyone what it was so it would come true.

The ingredients to make cakes were pretty expensive, so this birthday custom didn’t become popular until the Industrial Revolution.

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