Many people don’t realize that most of the birthday invitation symbols and traditions are derived from ancient times and have meanings behind them. Some argue that the Greeks gave us the birthday cake, while others attribute this particular birthday symbol to the Germans, many of whose birthday customs we’ve adopted. When you’re shopping for first birthday invitations, it is fun to remember where some of those symbols originated.
Why are Birthday Cakes Round on First Birthday Invitations?
To the ancient Greeks, a round cake symbolized a full moon. It’s said that the Greeks started the tradition of birthday cakes because they would give the goddess of the moon, Artemis, round cakes by leaving them at her temple. The shape evoked her powers, and the Greeks hoped to stay in good favor by leaving her these cakes.
Some scholars argue that the birthday cake originated with the Germans, who would bake a cake (which was closer to bread) that was shaped to symbolize the swaddling clothes worn by the baby Jesus. The Germans are also credited with baking Geburtstagorten, a sweeter type of cake, and serving this on birthdays.
When you see birthday cakes on first birthday invitations, you will remember Artemis, the moon goddess, when you see the round shape. You can remember the Germans and the religious connotations associated with the round birthday cake.
Why is There a Birthday Candle on First Birthday Invitations?
The Germans take credit for birthday candles as well, since they were considered superior candle makers, although the Greeks also used large candles. The Germans are credited with crafting small candles for birthday cakes, mostly for religious reasons.
For example, a single candle, much like you find on first birthday invitations, represents the “light of life.” The Germans also believed that the smoke took wishes up to heaven, which is how making a wish before blowing out a candle got started. The Greeks, on the hand, used candles to simulate the glow of a full moon and to please Artemis.
Good luck was especially important in those times because people believed that spirits lurked around corners. A birthday party originated because people were afraid to be alone on their birthdays, for fear that evil spirits would attack. People felt safe in numbers, so family and friends would gather together on birthdays to protect the birthday girl or boy from the evil spirits.
When you choose first birthday invitations featuring a candle and inviting friends and family to a first birthday party, you can remember how these customs, that are now just considered fun, were once considered practical and necessary.
You can easily have fun with these ancient birthday symbols and include a fun, alternate theme in your first birthday invitations by choosing ones that portray a round birthday cake with a single candle. The “light of life” is your child and blowing out the candle will hopefully bring your child good luck and keep the evil spirits at bay while sending good wishes up to heaven.