Stream of Consciousness

Keep Your Head, Hug a Kid, and Party Loud

It’s Holly’s birthday tomorrow and I ended up searching where birthday practices originated. Honestly, I can’t remember how I got there from how to draw a really easy panda, but hey. Here we are.

Do you know why we light candles on cakes? Or why we make wishes? Apparently we’re trying to keep the goddess of the hunt from cutting our head off, celebrating a bunch of random kids lives, and keeping evil spirits from slurping our intestines out of our ears while we sing happy birthday to ourselves all alone in the quiet, dark corner.

Okay, not really, but something along those lines.

There are 3 major theories as to why we light candles on cakes. 1 Greeks, 2 Germans, 3 Pagans. BAM! Bet that tells you everything.


Alrighty then, here’s a better explanation:



Have you seen that movie? Put some Windex on it! Okay, I’m off topic. Ignore that.

Some scholars believe that the Greeks started the tradition of lighting candles on cakes.


Ever heard of the Goddess Artemis? She’s the goddess of the hunt and the moon. (She’s also a redhead in one of my Mom’s favorite book series. I do believe a demon the size of my fist calls her a heifer who needs barbecue sauce. But that’s off topic too.)

The Greeks baked round cakes and lit them with candles to symbolize the moon, in offering to Artemis. Some believe the smoke from the candles carried prayers to the gods – the possible origin of blowing candles out after making a wish.




However, some scholars don’t believe the Greeks had anything to do with birthday candles. Hence, the:


They held Kinderfests, a celebration held in honor of the children. Cakes were made with layers and different ingredients than normal for cake making.

They placed candles on all the cakes, normally one in the center.


OR, for those scholars who think that’s a bunch of gibberish, there’s this theory:


And no – I’m not about to talk about sacrificing baby goats by lighting them on fire and feeding them to the children.

Pagans believed that on a person’s birthday, evil spirits visited them all day. To defend themselves, they would invite their friends over and have a celebration, keeping the evil spirit from harming them or effecting them in any way. They’d make loud noises so as to scare the spirits away and stayed surrounded by happiness so they’d remain safe.

(There’s a story in their somewhere, I’m telling you.)


INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH, the Greeks and Romans both believed there was a protective spirit, or daemon, that was present for every person’s birth and they stay with them and watched that person throughout their life. In opposition, Pagans believed an evil spirit visited on the birth related day.

Also – its theorized (sheesh, if only I had a penny every time some scholar theorized something in this post) that the “fairy godmother” fairy tale is related to the above belief of a daemon. There’s also a lot of association with the belief of guardian angels as well.

That had absolutely nothing to do with this post, but it sorta kinda did and I felt like sharing. Ta da.


Oh, and here’s my really bad panda drawing, which is on the birthday card I made for Holly. Because I’m proud of my really dorky drawing non-skills.




9 thoughts on “Keep Your Head, Hug a Kid, and Party Loud

  1. very informative Daphne..I think I believe the pagans started it!
    Panda is GREAT!
    oh..I loved My Big Fat Greek Wedding…just me her a couple of months ago. She has a new book out about adoption.
    Be WELL!

  2. Huh! I had no idea those were the legends behind birthdays. Now I wonder how many other cultures present cakes to their respective birthday boys/girls? That would be cool to find out.

    Also, your panda is adorable. 🙂

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