My son just celebrated his third birthday last weekend. In the best interest of our country, we had immediate family over for two separate gatherings. We had a cake for one and an ice cream cake for the other. We didn't do anything crazy, but we had all of the traditional birthday stuff, except we forgot birthday candles. We didn't mean to, but it just didn't occur to us until it was time to bring out the cake at the first party. After briefly feeling like I had carelessly made my kid's birthday a little less perfect, I pretty quickly realized birthday candles as we have known them should become a thing of the past.
In the current climate, it is absolutely insane to think that there is a regular tradition where people blow on food seconds before a group of people eat it. Think about every time you attended a birthday party and someone had to blow out a large number of candles. Or any time a child who didn't really know what they were doing had to blow out a small number of candles. Just spittle and viruses and germs and anything else you can imagine being expelled all over a shareable pile of sugar. What the hell were we thinking?
A 2014 Mental Floss article traced the tradition of birthday candles back to the Ancient Greeks. Their life expectancy was 35 years. I'm not saying birthday cake germs were the leading cause of death, but I bet it didn't help the average. Another possible origin goes back to the Germans in the 1700's. I think we're well past time to come up with a new tradition.
Maybe we turn to poppers or balloon drops. Maybe it's as simple as a separate cupcake with a single symbolic candle representing that year has gone by and we've grown so little.
There is no wrong answer. Feel free to create your own unique family traditions. No two birthday parties are the same anyway so figure out a replacement for blowing out candles. They are nothing but trouble. Happy birthday when you potentially expose your closest friends and family to illness? No such thing.