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Old 06-29-2013, 01:09 PM   #1
Prince Michael
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Question Is this a Japanese custom ?

One episode of The Courtship of Eddie's Father was about Tom Corbett's ( Bill Bixby ) birthday . Mrs . Livingston ( Miyoshi Umeki ) put three candles on his birthday cake . When Eddie ( Brandon Cruz ) said "Dad's more than three years old !", Mrs . Livingston said "One candle is for the past, one is for the present, and one is for the future !" . I got the idea that that it was a Japanese custom to put three candles on a birthday cake to represent the past, the present, and the future .

When I got into my twenties, my mom couldn't fit twenty -- plus candles on my birthday cake . I always told her "Put three candles on my cake ! One for the past, one for the present, and one for the future !" . I always told her that AFTER she tried fitting twenty -- plus candles on my cake, and she always forgot that idea on my next birthday . NOW -- Is it a Japanese custom ( or a Japanese -- American custom ) to put three candles on a birthday cake, or was that the idea of the writer of Eddie's Father ? Thank you in advance for your answers .
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Old 06-29-2013, 03:16 PM   #2
esl
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I was born in Japan in the early 60's (although I am not ethnically Japanese) and have lived there off and on throughout my life. Most recently from 2007-2010. I have never heard of this. First, birthdays are not celebrated in Japan like they are in the west; though some birthdays represent very important milestones. Particularly, when a child turns three, or a boy turns five or a girl turns seven. Cake is not a traditional Japanese food; as ovens are not common, even to this day in Japan. (My new apartment I lived in from 2007-2010 did not have one.) Cake was brought to Japan by the Portuguese missionaries who first settled in the area around Nagasaki and is associated with that city. A birthday celebration including cake would be a post war/occupation adaptation of western culture. This three candles saying sounds like something the writers made up.

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Old 06-29-2013, 05:39 PM   #3
Prince Michael
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All right ... when I was asking this question, I wondered "Do they even have cakes in Japan ?" . I wondered if it was a Japanese -- American custom, because Japanese people in America would be more familiar with a birthday cake, and they might add their own customs to the idea . Once I started thinking about that scene, I realized that I couldn't remember Mrs . Livingston saying anything about it being a Japanese custom . We can be thankful that we can ask questions on the internet to get more information when we have a question .
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Old 07-03-2013, 04:37 PM   #4
Liz Crasten
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Hi! I don't think putting only 3 candles on a birthday cake is a Japanese custom. It's probably done that way as you get older and don't want people to know how old you are.
Also, the episode you're referring to was about Norman Tinker's birthday, not Tom Corbett's birthday.

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