The History of Wedding Cake
The wedding cake is an age-old tradition dating all the way back to Roman times. The cake was literally smashed over the bride’s head and while that seems a bit cruel, it was meant to bring the happy couple good luck. From the time it became a tradition, it has been a symbol of good fortune and fertility. It is said to bring luck to all who eat the wedding cake. Cutting of the cake is just as symbolic in that the bride must cut the first slice of cake to ensure good fortune in the marriage.
Since the cake symbolizes such good fortune for the bride and groom, many people believe any single women in attendance at the wedding should take a slice home and put it under their pillow to produce dreams of a future partner. According to The Smithsonian, “In medieval England, newlyweds smooched over a pile of buns, supposedly ensuring a prosperous future. Unmarried guests sometimes took home a little piece of cake to tuck under their pillow. Perhaps this was preferable to eating it. One early British recipe for “Bride’s Pye” mixed cockscombs, lamb testicles, sweetbreads, oysters and (mercifully) plenty of spices. Another version called for boiled calf’s feet.”
Since then, the wedding cake has become more of a delicacy in the mid-sixteenth century when sugar was becoming more abundant in England. Sugar was becoming more refined. The more refined it became, the whiter it became. The cake became to symbolize the woman’s virginity. As Carol Wilson illustrates for us in her Gastronomica article “Wedding Cake: A Slice of History,” the whiteness became “a status symbol, a display of the family’s wealth.” From then, tiered cakes made an entrance with decorative icing and multiple layers of delicious confection, which is what we know now at modern weddings.
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