In many countries throughout the world, entering a house through the back door is considered inauspicious. People in certain parts of Europe draw circles on both the front and back doors to prevent evil forces from entering their houses. Others paint intricate patterns on their doorsteps to keep evil at bay. Often, these patterns are formed using uninterrupted strokes. In central Europe, it is a custom for people to close their doors by slamming them several times. In doing so, ghosts and evil spirits attempting to enter the house will be stuck between the door and the doorframe. In English households, those who are superstitious will remove doors from their hinges and reinstall them in the opposite direction when death strikes the household. They believe that this will stop the spirit of the dead from coming back.
The contemporary practice of putting candles on a birthday cake and desire to able to put them out with a single breath, so that we are able to fulfill our dreams, will probably not lead us to think about the fact that this was an olden prayer rites for the Greek goddess Artemis. Artemis was the goddess of the moon, connubiality and delivery. Special cakes bearing the shape of the moon were prepared and candles were arranged on the temple altars on occasions to celebrate her birth. If devotees blew out the candles in a single breath, Artemis would safeguard them and bring them good luck, and fulfill their wishes.
The practice of putting a cake on the dinner table early in the break of day of someone’s birthday, that started in Germany in the Middle Ages, was very much like the aforementioned one. Candles were encircled around the cake and the candles burned for the duration of the entire day to drive away ill spirits. The candles also served as a keepsake that life is fleeting and stood for the candles that would be lit for one’s wake eventually. The act of blowing them out in a birthday celebration means that the person is showing the capability of determining his own fate. Blowing every one of them out one at a time is deemed to lucky because it suggests not only power, but also taking charge of the individual’s destiny.