Origin of Birthday Cakes dates back to ancient times but the cake of then was very different from what we have today. The word ‘cake’ is said to have coined as early as 13th century and is said to have derived from ‘kaka’- an Old Norse word.
Birthday cakes were mostly round in shape. Greeks offered round shape cake to the Goddess of Moon - Artemis as it signified moon. They even placed candles on the cake to make the cake glow like the moon.
Some scholars say that candles were placed on the cake because people believe that the smoke of the candle carried their wishes and prayers to Gods who lived in the skies. Others believe that the custom originated in Germany where people used to place a large candle in the centre of the cake to symbolize ‘the light of life’.
With the time, the art of baking cakes kept progressing and it was not until the middle of the 19th century that the cake we know of today developed. Taste and appearance of the cake was enhanced with extra-refined white flour and the use of baking powder instead of yeast. the phrase "Happy Birthday" did not appear on birthday cakes until the song Happy Birthday to You was popularized in the early 1900s. Variations on birthday song rituals exist. For example, in New Zealand, the Happy Birthday to You is sung out of tune and is followed by clapping, once for each year of the persons life and once more for good luck. In Uruguay, party guests touch the birthday person's shoulder or head following the singing of Happy Birthday to You. In Ecuador, sometimes the birthday person will take a large bite off the birthday cake before it's served.
The Chinese birthday pastry is the sou bao , lotus-paste-filled buns made of wheat flour which are shaped and colored to resemble peaches. A single large pastry is not often served, rather each guest is served their own. In Korea, the traditional birthday dish is a seaweed soup. In Western Russia, birthday children are served fruit pies with a birthday greetings carved into the crusts. The Swedish birthday cake is made like a pound cake and is often topped with marzipan and decorated with the national flag. A Dutch birthday pastry are fruit tarts topped with whipped cream. The Mexican birthday tradition involves a piñata, a colored brittle container filled with candy. In India it's common to rub a piece of cake icing on the face of the birthday person, after the cake has been cut.
What happens at your house? Do you purchase a Birthday Cake for your children and DH or SO, or do you make it? If you make it do you a box mix? Do you doctor it up? Do you have one cake that you make especially for Birthdays, or does each person pick their favorite? What happens when it's your Birthday? Please share recipes.