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Cutting The Cake: The History Of This Couple’s Tradition

Long before the idea of intricately icing a cake was created, the origins of wedding cake dates back to the Roman Empire.

The wedding cake was the subject of many customs and traditions over the years. We’ll talk about the custom of cutting the wedding cake as well as other wedding cake traditions in this article.

Cutting The Cake: The History Of This Couple's Tradition

Old Wedding Traditions

Some of these traditions have endured the test of time. Others haven’t. No longer performed is the tradition of breaking a cake above a bride’s head. It’s possible that the custom dates back to the Roman Empire. 

A piece of barley bread made specifically for the wedding would be broken over the bride’s head after the groom had eaten some of it.

According to history, breaking the bread represented the end of the bride’s virginity and the groom’s subsequent power over her. 

The correct breaking of the cake above the bride’s head became physically impossible as wedding cakes grew larger and more contemporary. 

There were accounts of breaking breakable cakes above the bride’s head throughout Scotland in the 19th century, though the custom swiftly vanished in certain places. 

The bride’s pie was a well-liked dish that first appeared in the middle of the 17th century and persisted throughout the early 19th century.

The pie may have been a plain mutton pie, a mince pie, or it may have been filled with sweet breads. 

A glass ring was a significant “ingredient.” Even while bride’s pies were not always included at weddings, there are reports of such pies being used as the major focus at less affluent events. 

The bride was the centre of attention at the wedding, as suggested by the name “bride cakes.” The prefix “bride” was also applied to many other things, including the bride bed, bridegroom, and bridesmaid.

The custom of tucking a piece of cake beneath one’s pillow is most likely what gave rise to the custom of presenting cake as a “gift” in modern times.

According to a legend, if a slice of cake is placed under a person’s pillow, they will dream about their future wives. 

This idea gave rise to the odd custom of brides passing little cake crumbs through their wedding bands before giving them out to guests so they may put them beneath their pillows in the 18th century. 

When brides started to become superstitious over removing their rings after the ceremony, the tradition was discontinued.

Wedding Cake Colors

Most people believe that wedding cakes “should” be white. The symbolism associated with the colour white makes it very easy to understand this custom. 

When it comes to white wedding cake frosting, which originally appeared in Victorian times, white has traditionally stood for purity.

The idea that the cake was first known as the couple’s cake is another way that a white cake links to the idea of purity. 

This not only made the bride stand out as the main attraction of the wedding but also established a visual connection between the woman and the cake. 

As more modern brides coordinate their wedding cakes with the colour of their wedding gown, even if it is not white, that connection is growing stronger nowadays.

The majority of wedding cakes were white before the Victorian era, but not due to any symbolic significance.

The decision to use the colour white for icing was more rational. Finding ingredients was exceedingly challenging, especially the ones needed for icing. 

The lighter the cake, the wealthier the families seemed because white icing necessitated usage of only the most refined sugar. This is why a white cake came to represent wealth in the public eye.

Cutting The Cake: The History Of This Couple's Tradition

Cutting The Wedding Cake Tradition

In the customary cake-cutting ceremony, wedding cakes take centre stage. This is symbolic of the couple’s first work together as husband and wife. The majority of us have experienced this ritual numerous times. 

The bride cuts the first slice of cake with the groom’s “assistance.” At first, the bride was given exclusive responsibility for this chore.

She divided the cake among her visitors. The custom of giving out slices of cake to guests is one that originated in the Roman Empire. 

The bread was traditionally broken above the bride’s head, and the guests would fight over pieces that landed on the floor. They thought that eating such portions would guarantee fertility. 

But as the number of wedding guests increased, so did the scale of the cake, making it difficult for the bride to handle the distribution on her own. 

Early multitier cakes made cutting cake more challenging since the frosting needed to be firm enough to maintain the cake’s weight. Due to this, cutting the cake has to be done together.

Following the cake-cutting ceremony, the couple begins to eat from the first slice together. The bride and groom’s shared commitment to care for one another offers even another nice piece of symbolism in this.

The Evolution Of Wedding Cakes

The once-simple wedding cake has developed into a multitier spectacle in modern times. Originally only English nobility was allowed to eat the elaborate wedding cake.

The early multitier cakes were only real in appearance, even to the nobles. 

They had mock-ups of their top layers made from spun sugar. A real multitier cake could be made once the issue of keeping the top layers from tumbling into the bottom layers was resolved. 

It was a logical evolution for cake makers to try employing pillars as a technique to stabilize the upper tiers as pillars as ornamentation had been used for a long time prior to the invention of multitiered cakes. 

Icing was solidified to give the support that was required to keep the pillars from falling into the lower tier. Nowadays, few brides can resist keeping the top tier of their multitiered cake. 

The majority of couples plan to serve the cake for their first anniversary after freezing it. The custom dates back to the late 19th century, when elaborate cakes were created for baptisms. 

The two events were frequently linked, as well as the cakes, since it was anticipated that the christening may take place soon after the marriage ceremony.

The christening cake soon lost ground to the wedding cake as wedding cakes grew more and more ornate. 

The top tier was frequently left over when three-tiered desserts gained popularity. A subsequent christening offered the ideal chance to consume the cake. 

The motivation for preserving the top layer altered when the gap in between weddings and christenings grew, separating the two occasions. 

Whatever the underlying cause, the top layer provides as a very welcome reminder of the couple’s very special day when they do finally eat it.

Final Thoughts

Long considered a symbolic element, the wedding cake. Of course, traditions change with the times, but the symbolic cutting of a wedding cake is still a beloved and significant wedding celebration ritual today. 

This custom is beloved by many couples since it makes for a wonderful photo opportunity and represents their first joint endeavour as newlyweds.
Anna Ingham
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