Happy Birthday!

On Wednesday, I made my husband’s coworker a birthday Oreo cheesecake because he couldn’t take a day off on his birthday. As a compensation, I made him a small treat so that the whole team can celebrate together with him. (Let’s hear it: awww~)

Western BDay Cake

I remember when I first started working permanently, my coworkers were surprised that I don’t take off for my birthday. I didn’t even know people do that in the first place! To me, a birthday is just another day that I supposedly grew older. I don’t think it’s particularly important and I would rather save the day off for a real vacation later.

In Western culture, or at least the States, you often get a birthday cake as part of your birthday celebration. What kind of cake do you like? The ones with icing or the ones with cream? I’m definitely in the cream camp, which is harder to find in the States than you think it is. I usually go to our Korean bakeries to order cream cakes because American bakeries usually only have the icing kind which were all the hyped a few years back because of all the baking shows on TV. I do agree, you can make such imaginative creations with icing and fondant, but it is too much sugar for me.

The modern birthday cake is believed to be originated from 14th century Germany where eating cake on weddings became popularized to eating cake on birthdays as well. Since eggs and dairy products such as butter and milk were considered luxury items, cakes only appear on special occasions and probably for the wealthy.

Did you know the “Happy Birthday” song you sing right before you blow out the candles was copyrighted? Warner Music held the copyright to the song for 80 years but a federal judge ruled the copyright invalid in September 2015. Thank goodness! We can now sing “Happy Birthday” wherever and however we want without the worry of royalties.

As for those candles you blow out after making a wish, some say the ritual came from Ancient Greece where Greek lit candles and placed them on honey cake or bread to honor Artemis’s birth.

Longevity Noodles. Source: Apple Daily

For our birthdays this year, my husband and I got longevity noodles from my parents! These noodles, also known as yee mein (伊麵), represent longevity due to its length in Chinese culture. They are typically stir fried with chives, mushrooms, and slivers of meat. Don’t cut them when you’re serving because that “cuts” your longevity. At the end of the meal, we would eat longevity buns (壽包) shaped like a peach. The buns are usually filled with lotus seed paste. Folklore has it that magic peaches grow in heaven for the gods and goddesses and those who consumed them would become immortal. Thus, these  buns symbolize a long and healthy life.

How do you celebrate your birthday?