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Published on 21 March 2024

Why Do We Blow Out Birthday Candles?

Birthdays are a brilliant time to have fun and celebrate the people we love. It's a chance to laugh, enjoy each other's company, and make special memories. And during the festivities, there's one tradition we all love - blowing out the birthday candles. As the candles flicker on top of the yummy cake, each one represents a year gone by and happy times shared. Blowing them out isn't just about marking time, it's also about making wishes and looking forward to the future. It's a joyful moment when we gather around to see the birthday person blow out their candles and hope their wishes come true. So let's keep this tradition going because there's something magical about those candles going out.

Let’s explore the interesting history and cultural meaning behind this cherished tradition revealing a story filled with old beliefs, superstitions, and joyful gatherings.

  • Ancient Beginnings: Paying Homage to Deities
    • When we look into where birthday candles come from, we find ourselves in Ancient Greece, a place full of mystery and legend. Back then, candles weren't just for light – they were seen as important gifts for the gods. The Greeks, who believed in many gods and goddesses, would light candles as offerings to show their respect and admiration. One goddess they particularly honoured was Artemis, the goddess of the moon. The Greeks associated the glowing moon with round cakes. They decorated these cakes with candles to mimic the gentle light of the moon. So, putting candles on cakes wasn't just about making them bright – it was a way for people to show their respect and love for their gods.


  • German Traditions: Illuminating the Path of Life
    • Away from Greece, in Germany, candles were also used on special cakes but for a different reason. With deep connections to religion, Germans would place one candle in the middle of the cake, representing the "light of life." This candle symbolised hope, guidance, and the journey through life's twists and turns.


  • Superstitions and Symbolism: Echoes from the Past
    • As birthday celebrations have changed over time, so have the stories and beliefs about blowing out candles. In different cultures, people think that when you blow out your birthday candles, your wishes go up into the sky  with the smoke. They believe these wishes reach the heavens where kind spirits live. Blowing out candles isn't just about putting out flames; it's a special moment full of meaning, where hopes and dreams soar into the unknown. In some places, blowing out candles is like silently asking for good luck. In others, it's like saying a heartfelt prayer, hoping your dreams will come true. Whatever the wish, blowing out candles is a way of connecting with something bigger than ourselves, a moment of hope and respect during the happy celebrations.

Unveiling the Secrets: How Do Trick Candles Work?

In the gentle light of birthday candles, there's a sneaky surprise waiting to happen – trick candles. These cheeky candles don't go out like normal ones. Instead, they keep lighting up again, which can either be funny or annoying for the people celebrating.

Trick candles, also called magic candles or relighting candles, have a special secret inside them. They're made with magnesium, a metal that reacts with air. So, when you blow them out, the oxygen from your breath helps them light up again. It's like a little chemistry trick that brings laughter to the pranksters and confusion to the guests who didn't expect it.

Unravelling the Symbolism: Why Do We Put Candles On Birthday Cakes?

At the heart of this tradition is a colourful picture of symbolism. Each candle on a birthday cake has a special meaning beyond just giving light.

Symbolising Age and Fresh Starts: When candles go on top of a birthday cake, they show how many years someone has lived. Every year, another candle is added, showing how time keeps going round and round. Blowing out these candles means saying goodbye to the old year and getting ready for new chances and adventures in the year ahead.

Keeping Away Bad Spirits: In different places, people used to think that birthdays attracted bad spirits that wanted to cause trouble for the birthday person. Putting candles on cakes was like putting up a shield, keeping those spirits away and keeping the person safe.


The Ritual of Wishes: Secrets Behind Blowing Out Candles

Blowing out birthday candles isn't just about putting out flames – it's about making wishes that last through time. It's like a secret deal between the person celebrating and the universe.

How to Make a Wish: Although the rules might be different for everyone, the idea stays the same. The person whose birthday it is looks at the flickering candles and quietly tells the universe what they want most. Then, with one blow, they put out the flames, keeping their wishes hidden in the universe's magic. Tradition says that if you tell your wish or try to blow out the candles more than once, it might not come true, showing just how special this ritual is.

Fun Facts and Practical Tips: Enhancing Your Birthday Candle Experience

Colours of Candle Magic: Explore the colourful world of candle colours, each with its own special meanings and feelings.

  • Black: Protection, Banishing, Grounding
  • Blue: Peace, Healing, Tranquility
  • Brown: Stability, Abundance, Prosperity
  • Green: Prosperity, Growth, Luck
  • Pink: Love, Romance, Self-Love
  • Purple: Wisdom, Spirituality, Intuition
  • Red: Passion, Strength, Energy

In times when we're more careful about staying healthy, it's important to keep hygiene in mind, even during celebrations. If you're not feeling well, avoid blowing out candles with your mouth to stop germs from spreading. Instead, use utensils or napkins to put out the flames.

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Conclusion: Igniting the Flames of Tradition

As we gather around the glowing birthday cake, let's take a moment to respect the story behind each flickering candle. From ancient times to now, blowing out birthday candles is more than just a tradition – it brings us all together in happiness, hope, and heartfelt wishes. So, next time you blow out candles, think about the history and meaning behind them, and maybe make a wish of your own.

With each breath, we keep the tradition alive, lighting up the future with hope, love, and endless opportunities.