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Why Do We Eat Birthday Cake?

A birthday cake has sprinkles around the bottom and multi-colored candles lit on top.
Ruth Black/Shutterstock.com

Blowing out the candles and having a big slice of cake on your birthday is one tasty tradition! While some people might opt for birthday pie or another dessert, a cake is a classic.

But, have you ever thought about why we eat birthday cake? We have the Greeks to thank.

While birthday celebrations can be dated back to ancient Egypt, it was the Greeks who “borrowed” the idea of celebrating someone’s birth—and added to it!

The Greeks believed that birthday celebrations would be made better with a sweet treat. Can’t argue with that! So, the Greeks baked moon-shaped cakes as an offering to Artemis, the goddess of the moon. They would decorate the mooncakes with candles to make them shine.

Sound familiar? The tradition has definitely stuck.

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Make your own birthday cake next year!

However, birthday cakes didn’t really become popular in the United States until after the Industrial Revolution. Before that, ingredients were too expensive for the average person to buy.

When more ingredients became available and affordable, more people started to enjoy cakes on their birthdays, and “just because”. Bakeries even started to offer pre-made cakes people could pick up for celebrations. Today, it’s hard to imagine life without dessert, even on a random Tuesday!

You might not think about dedicating your next birthday cake to the goddess of the moon. But, consider giving a little nod of thanks to the ancient Greeks the next time you blow out your candles and celebrate your special day with a sweet treat. We have them to thank for adding cake to our birthday celebrations.

Stacey Koziel Stacey Koziel
Stacey Koziel is a news writer at LifeSavvy. She's worked as a freelance writer for over ten years, focusing on family and lifestyle content. She also has a background in marketing and social media, and is always eager to talk (and write!) about the latest TikTok trends. Read Full Bio »
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