Cake, Candle & Song!

A Birthday Wish

Part 2 of 2

The tradition of placing candles on Birthday cakes is attributed to the early Greeks, who placed lit candles on cakes to make them glow like the moon. They believed the smoke of the candle carried their wishes and prayers to Gods. Some say the modern day use of Birthday candles originated in Germany where people used to place a large candle in the centre of the cake to symbolize the light of life.

Today people place candles on Birthday cakes and make a silent wish before blowing them out. It is believed that blowing out all the candles in one breath means the wish will come true and the person will enjoy good luck in the coming year.

The Birthday song is considered to be the joint work of two American sisters, Mildred and Dr Patty Hill. The song that was originally entitled Good Morning to All and bore the recognizable melody. First published in 1893 in the book, Song Stories for the Kindergarten it credited Dr Patty Hill for the lyrics and Mildred Hill for the music. The entire song was published in 1935.

Today, the Guinness Book of World Records recognizes Happy Birthday to You as one of the three most popular songs in English language, the other two being Auld Lang Syne and For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow!

Though it has been translated into dozens of languages the English version is still sung in places where English is not a primary language. The Hill family owned the rights to the song, and were entitled to royalties whenever it was sung for commercial purpose, until 1989 when Warner Communications purchased the copyright for more than $28 million dollars.

That copyright has been extended several times and is now not due to expire until at least 2030.

Every time you hear the song sung on TV or radio, royalties are being paid to Warner Communications. Nice work if you can get it!

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