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Should a daughter's birthday wish be spoken out loud?

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Quick Answer

Folklore passed down through many cultures states that when a child blows out all the candles on her birthday cake, she is granted a wish, but if she says the wish aloud, it does not come true. No one knows where this superstition originated, but it may exist to tell children silence is golden. Another theory exhibited in fables, mythology and religion is that if one asks for too much from the gods, she gets punished for hubris.

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The tradition of birthday cakes and candles goes back to the ancient Greeks, who offered the goddess of the moon, Artemis, moon-shaped honey cakes on her birthday. The cakes were decorated with glowing candles to symbolize the glow of the full moon. The Greeks believed the smoke from the candles carried their prayers and wishes to the goddess. This corresponds to the modern tradition of blowing out all the candles in order to get one's wish. A candle is added each year, creating more smoke and allowing a bigger wish.

Germans in the Middle Ages were the first to give their children birthday cakes, as part of a celebration called Kinderfest. The Germans would place one large candle in the center of the cake to symbolize the light of life.

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