The Birthday Cake Tradition: When Did it Start?

May 11, 2022

Cakes are the most essential component of any birthday celebration. Even if we don't do anything spectacular, we’re more than likely to cut a cake. As such, it is safe to say that no birthday is ever complete without a cake. But when did this tradition start? And, how are cakes on birthdays accepted universally? The answers for these quests are finally here.

An Absolutely Decadent History

Ancient history suggests that we may credit two civilisations when it comes to the birthday cake tradition. First, there were the Ancient Egyptians, who came up with the concept of birthdays. They believed that pharaohs would become gods following their coronation day. So, the ritual was dubbed the "new birthday" at the time.

Second, the Greeks improved the Egyptian tradition by including moon-shaped cakes in their offerings to Artemis, the goddess of the moon. They decorated the cakes with lit candles to make them glow like the moon. Birthday cakes with candles were born as a result of this. Furthermore, they believed that candle smoke served as a conduit for their prayers to reach the gods. Well, now we get the idea of how the “make a wish” tradition was born.

Did you know the first birthday cakes were baked by Romans? It’s true. They even made it with flour, yeast, nuts, and honey to commemorate special occasions such as 50th birthdays of popular citizens and of course, weddings.

The Modern Take

The Germans deserve special mention for revolutionising the way modern birthdays are celebrated using the cakes that are sweeter, and unlike any other bread-like products. The sweeter birthday cakes were referred to as Geburtstagstorten. Back in the 18th century, children celebrated with birthday cakes decorated with lighted candles which represented the hope of another full year lived. They called it “Kinderfest”.

Birthday cakes later became accessible to the lower classes after the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700s and early 1800s. What was once a luxury item due to higher-priced ingredients, now became something everyone could afford thanks to mass production. Ingredients such as sugar, flour, cream, and ready-made cakes all became significantly less expensive.

People of all ages begin to celebrate their birthdays with cakes, which has definitely become a popular tradition and the chocolate cakes were first made in the United States in 1886. Then came the frosted cakes. Using the icing method, different shaped flowers, and ribbons were added to the cakes to create a more appealing appearance.

Although the birthday cake tradition has become so popular, many countries have their own style of baking. For example, Russians choose homemade pie with a personalised message carved into the top crust. 

Swedish people prepare a sponge cake with yummy almond paste, fruit jams, whipped cream with green toppings, marzipan and sprinkled powdered sugar — they name it the princess cake aka prinsesstårta. Birthday parties in Norway are a lavish affair, complete with food, music, dancing, and of course, cakes. Typically, the cake is made with chocolate tart or fresh fruit cream.

Celebrate the Next Birthday with Laurent Bernard

Fast forward to 2022, we are currently living in a generation where we could easily find the best chocolate cake recipe guide online for our next birthday or with just a few steps, we can order freshly baked pure chocolate cake or black forest cake made with artisan chocolates Laurent Bernard is the best chocolatier with the finest artisan chocolates in Singapore.

Not just that, we offer cakes and pastries, hampers and gifts, and chocolate delivery for any special occasion in Singapore. So, the next time you’re planning a birthday party or hosting a christmas dinner, or gifting chocolate boxes to your dear ones, Laurent Bernard — the best chocolate shop in Singapore will do the honours for you.