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Why do people applaud after a person blows out the birthday candles on their cake?

I can understand why we might rejoice in a six-year old child’s ability to blow out the half a dozen candles that adorn his or her cake, but shouldn’t this tradition end sometime before we enter adulthood?

Think about the customary birthday cake sequence:

We sing happy birthday to the honoree and then clap.

Then he or she blows out the candles and we clap again.

Why is this necessary?

Last weekend I watched a 30-year old man receive an enthusiastic round of applause after blowing out just four candles. Had the guy actually blown out thirty candles in a single breath, I might have joined in the applause, but just four lousy candles?

A rapidly-closing refrigerator door could’ve blown them out.

It’s time to stop cheapening the act of applause and reserve it for those moments that truly matter. Rather than representing an expression of appreciation or admiration, applause too often serves as a transition between or as the conclusion of a ceremony or custom. Let’s stop this silliness and save applause for special occasions.  

A full-grown adult man blowing out a minuscule number of birthday candles is not one of them.

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