“Did you have a Happy Birthday?”

A friend of mine celebrated his third birthday this week. He had candles on his cake, happily blew them out and then opened some presents. His mother asked, “Did you have a happy birthday?” He smiled and said, “Yes! I want to blow more wishes!”

Happy Birthday!Children have joy and creativity in abundance. They do not set limits on themselves. Rules are often just suggestions to be tried out. One size does not fit all for a young child. A cupcake has no guilt in eating it.

Adults are more pragmatic. They understand the need for rules and the consequences when they are not followed. They feel comfortable knowing who they are and what is expected of them. They try to eat healthy things even when they don’t always taste as good as the “junk food.” Both ends of that spectrum have advantages, and we can learn from each other. We all could benefit from taking some parts of a joyful preschooler and mixing them with some parts of a mature adult and watching what happens.

The idea of making one wish while blowing out candles for a birthday has been around for all of our lives. The tradition seems to go back to ancient Greeks when they would put candles on a cake to pay tribute to the Greek moon goddess, Artemis. The round cake symbolized the moon and the candles reflected the moonlight.  Germans also enjoyed the cake and candle tradition as they put a  larger candle in the middle of the cake to symbolize “the light of life.” Some people have looked at the smoke from the candle as a vehicle to carry their wishes to gods who lived in the skies.

Superstition is still surrounded by some of our birthday candles. If you have ever feared a wish would not come true if you did not use one blow to extinguish your candles or if you shared your silent secret with someone else, you have used some superstition. Mixing some old tradition with some new concepts is how we often get our current practices.

If you want a good recipe for a “Happy Birthday”, take 2 parts preschoolers with one part adult, mix until blended and spread to others. Blow more wishes as desired.

  • Do you have a special birthday wish you remember either getting or not getting?
  • What, if anything, is wrong with wanting to wish more than once?
  • Will you take a moment and think of a wish you would like for your birthday and then plan how you could make it a reality.

“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

“Don’t wish me happiness – I don’t expect to be happy it’s gotten beyond that, somehow. Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humor – I need them all. ” Anne Morrow Lindbergh

P.S. As we look toward our future wishes, believe it or not, there is an app for that! Click here for your birthday candle to use.