Timeless Traditions: Wedding Cake
By now y’all know how much I love wedding cake, and you probably also know that I like to know how traditions got their start. So today I am combining two of my favorite things and investigating the tradition behind why cake is a wedding staple!
There is a lot of symbolism involved in the cake tradition, and like a lot of wedding traditions the origin is very sexist. In Roman times the groom would break a loaf of barley bread over his bride’s head to symbolize his dominance over her. Once the bread was broken guests would then scramble for crumbs because they were believed to give good luck and fertility. Fortunately, this tradition and its meaning has evolved significantly through the years.
Starting around the 1600’s the cake became known as the bride’s cake and was traditionally white in color to reflect the bride and her virginity. At this time in history the bride would cut the cake alone which was symbolic of her losing her virginity. Eventually cakes reached a size and weight that required the groom to help the bride cut the cake. When this occurred the act of cutting the cake symbolized luck and good fortune for the couple and the tradition of the couple eating the first piece of the cake together began. By consuming the same piece of cake the bride and groom are reiterating the vows they’ve just made to each other.
Another odd tradition has to do with the bridesmaids, who would take pieces of cake that had passed through the bride’s wedding ring and put them under their pillows. By doing this, the bridesmaids would supposedly dream of their future husbands.
I really should stop researching these traditions because I am usually disappointed by their origin, but then I remember that traditions and meanings change. This is a good thing because I don’t think even my love of wedding cake would win if we still cut the cake to signify the loss of virginity or male dominance.
What do you think about the traditions behind wedding cake? Let us know in the comments!