Tonight we went to a Birthday Party. For our oldest grand daughter. She turned 21 this weekend. Not 21 months. Twenty-one years. Oh my gosh we are old.
But as we do at all those birthday celebrations, when the cake comes up, we put a bunch of candles on it and light them. Then, the birthday girl is supposed to make a wish and blow them out.
The question is, why? It is kind of gross, really. When someone blows all over the cake.
But the tradition has been around for a very long time. In fact, it goes all the way back to the times of the Ancient Greeks. Those guys in the cute white togas often burned candles as offerings to their many gods and goddesses. And they had a good many gods and goddesses.
To take it up a notch, those Ancient Greeks would put candles on a cake, as a warm and wooly way to pay tribute to the Greek moon goddess, Artemis. They were smart those Greeks. They baked round cakes to symbolize the moon. Candles were added to represent the reflected moonlight.
Then the tradition swung on over to in Germany, too. They did it for religious reasons, as well. Germans would place a large candle in the center of a cake to symbolize “the light of life.”
There are different meanings which have also been attached to the use of candles on cakes. Long ago…. people thought that the smoke from the candles would swirl on up, and carry those wishes and prayers to gods who lived in the skies. Other traditions showed that the smoke helped to ward off evil spirits.
And now, in our modern wisdom…. we still put birthday candles on cakes. Many folks who mill around at those parties still hold superstitious beliefs about the whole deal too.
We are supposed to make a silent wish before blowing out the candles. If all the candles are blown out in one breath…. the wish will come true. As a bonus…. the person will have good luck throughout the year.
But there is a downside. The same superstition holds that if it takes more than one breath to blow out all the candles the wish will not come true. Dag nab. It makes no matter though.
What really happens is this. When we light a candle…. any candle… the Light Faeries come out. They stay fluttering and flitting…. right at the candle …. gaining faerie-like energy from the flickering flame. And when the candle is blown out, they fly away. If someone makes a wish, they carry it with them, all the way to the center of the Universe. Which is right next to where the wisher stands. And that is how it happens.
Next, I have a story about this guy who was swallowed by a fish.
“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
“There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”
― Leonard Cohen, Selected Poems, 1956-1968
“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”
― William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice