A Strange question: Is the birthday cake/candles a Protestant tradition

According to wikipedia

The birthday cake has been an integral part of the birthday celebrations in predominantly Protestant countries since the middle of the 19th century, which extended to Western culture.

My Catholic family have always put candles on our birthday cakes. :confused:

You mean you didn’t know that the Council of Trent strickly forbade candles on a birthday cake? :eek: :D:D

Just kidding. I’ve never heard that before.


Mine too, at least in modern times. I guess going back a few generations, they probably didn’t have the luxury of having a cake for a birthday.

LOL! I never knew that either. :smiley: I never thought birthday candles had anything to do with any religion I thought it was just a neutral tradition in the US and other countries. :slight_smile: There’s nothing wrong with birthday candles. :slight_smile:

This thread got me to thinking about the Happy Birthday song too. :slight_smile: This is what wikipedia says:

The melody of “Happy Birthday to You” comes from the song “Good Morning to All”, which was written and composed by American siblings Patty Hill and Mildred J. Hill in 1893.[1][2] Patty was a kindergarten principal in Louisville, Kentucky, developing various teaching methods at what is now the Little Loomhouse;[3] Mildred was a pianist and composer.[4], p. 7 The sisters created “Good Morning to All” as a song that would be easy to be sung by young children.[4], p. 14
The combination of melody and lyrics in “Happy Birthday to You” first appeared in print in 1912, and probably existed even earlier.[4], pp. 31–32 None of these early appearances included credits or copyright notices.

That was interesting since it goes with birthday candles. :thumbsup:

My father was a Pastry Chef from Bavaria, which is just about the most practicing Catholic part of Europe aside from Poland. Namesday cakes (the Bavarian equivalent of a birthday cake) with candles are a tradition there going back hundreds of years- at least in Oberbayern (upper Bavaria).


It is from Wikipedia so I wonder how accurate it is. And no, there is nothing in Protestant theology that is linked to birthday cake/candles that I am aware of. Protestantism was usually geographically linked so it may have been a local tradition that had spread.

  1. Just because a practice is “integral … in predominantly Protestant countries” doesn’t mean Catholics cannot partake too.
  2. I doubt the claim in any case. The wikipedia article only mentions Protestantism in the first line which you quoted, and it looks like the author of that line took a great deal of poetic license (likely by just assuming that a Western European tradition must somehow, even tangentially, be related to religion). If you go to the cited reference for this statement, and use your browser’s find feature (type: Protestant), the word is used only once. Where it is used it actually says that many Protestants in America at first eschewed the use of birthday cakes:

The Ladies Repository continues by pointing out that some Americans in adhering to the values of their Puritan ancestors have taken the early Protestant prohibition against religious festivals too far by rejecting family centered events like birthdays


Wikipedia can be accurate, if based on credible sources. But there does seem to be a problem here.

According to the footnotes on Wikipedia’s “Birthday Cake” article, the Protestant claim came from an hobbyist website called New England Recipes. Specifically, it refers to an article titled Birthday Cakes: History & Recipes

However, if you visit that source, you will see that there is no claim of birthday cakes being a tradition of Protestant countries. That claim seems to have been an invention of whoever wrote the Wikipedia article. The claim should probably be edited out, if anyone here has an account to modify Wikipedia entries

You don’t need an account to modify articles, actually.

Oh no, my family has been practising a Protestant tradition for yeras.:o

If it is in Wikipedia that means it’s absolutely true.:smiley:

protestants have lots of traditions. but none of them are considered “Sacred Traditions”.

Martin Luther
Invented the advent wreath

The the christmas tree comes out of northern Germany after the reformation

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