When it comes to wedding celebrations, there are many superstitions and traditions that continue to form the framework of what we consider to be a ‘proper’ and special day.
Many of these have significant historical importance, and while not observed to the same degree in modern times as they once were, they still have importance to many – namely as a wholesome and memorable way for couples and their guests to celebrate the special occasion.
One such example is the tradition of putting wedding cake under your pillow while you sleep. But what exactly is the purpose of this tradition, and how widely practiced is it today?
Why Are Weddings So Superstitious?
Historically speaking, any special or important day – such as weddings, funerals, and other group celebrations or commiserations – were lauded with a sense of tradition, importance, and above all else superstition.
These would often lead people to associate certain practices with being good luck – both for the smooth running of the day itself, as well as for the futures of those in attendance.
By and large, this probably originated as a means of providing comfort to people, and reassuring them that their special days would go off without a hitch.
What’s more, the common belief in superstitions would keep people in line, and stop them from ruining weddings and funerals with bad behavior.
Why Put Cake Under The Pillow?
Traditionally speaking, this practice was not something done by the bride and groom on their wedding day – rather the bridesmaids (see also: 20 Charming Gifts For The Bride From Her Bridesmaids)who attended the wedding.
This was seen as a source of good luck and fortune – namely in a romantic sense, boosting the bridesmaids’ own chances of having a happy, loving marriage in the future.
As part of this tradition, the wedding cake would also usually be passed through the inside of the bride’s wedding ring – thus absorbing some of the good luck and happiness of the special day, and transferring it to the bridesmaids in turn.
While this might sound silly in modern times, one doesn’t need to think too hard about the perceived pressures on people in the past to see why they would put so much faith in superstition.
For women especially, the idea of finding a husband and having children was seen as their duty and right, and failure or not wanting to do so would result in judgment and disapproval from others.
Is This Tradition Still Done Today?
Despite seeming somewhat strange, this is actually still practiced today – particularly within certain regions and cultures.
The idea of the cake has a lot of symbolism – namely as an image of good luck, fertility, and happiness – and as such, the act of sleeping with a piece of wedding cake under your pillow is considered a way of securing such things for your own future.
While a relatively rare occurrence, namely due to the potential mess involved, this is an example of centuries-old traditions that continue to thrive in some places of the world.
What Other Cake-Based Traditions Are There?
As far as the wedding cake goes, there are still many different historical traditions that are observed on the special day.
Sharing The Cake
Firstly, it is considered important to share the wedding cake with all guests in attendance. This is not only seen as being good manners – as they are your guests – but also as a source of good luck.
More specifically, it is seen as sharing that good luck with everyone in attendance, and is very much seen as a way for the guests to honor the couple, partake in the celebrations, and as such grant them their blessings and support for the future.
Saving The Cake
While some people might wolf their cake down at the reception party itself, other people might choose to save their cake for future events and consumption.
This is generally a choice made by the married couple themselves – especially those with tiered cakes.
They may choose to save a layer or tier of their cake for their one year anniversary, the christening of their first born child, or any other event in the near future that is important to them.
This is generally only the case with fruit cakes, as they are the only cakes capable of lasting so long without going rotten.
Feeding One Another
It is also considered a wholesome sign of good luck and future happiness for the married couple to share the first piece between themselves – and to feed one another a piece of cake.
This is not only seen as being cute and loving, but also as a promise of their commitment to one another in the future.
This very much relates to the vows they make on the big day – namely the promise to love and care for one another in ‘sickness and in health’.
By sharing the cake, they are promising to continually nourish one another – not only with food and financial support, but also with love, kindness, support, and understanding.
Why Are Wedding Cakes So Important?
Both historically, as well as in modern day, the idea of the wedding cake is consistently lauded with a degree of importance, and there are several reasons for this.
Firstly, the importance comes from the shared experience that the cake provides – namely sharing the cake with family, friends, and loved ones, who will then not only show their support and love, but also be imbued with good feeling and luck themselves.
This very much represents the coming together of disparate groups of people for a common good – with opposing families, unknown friends, and other members of the couple’s lives coming together to form one unified family – a tradition that has a long history across the world.
Wedding cakes are also widely symbolic for the couple themselves, as well as their future happiness, strength, commitment, and even their fertility.
By everyone in attendance taking a piece of the cake and consuming it, they are putting their stakes on the couple, and showing their faith in the strength of their union.
This is another reason why wedding cakes are built tall and strong – usually made from dense fruit cake.
The taller the cake, the more chance there is for it to fall, and as such, a sturdy cake represents the immovability of the couple’s relationship and future.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about wedding day traditions, and why ones such as this have remained so popular in modern times.
It’s true that wedding days have many superstitions and traditions that go together to form the framework of modern matrimony, with the wedding cake perhaps holding more than most.
And while they may not have as much significance as they did in the past, tradition is still a fun and wholesome way for people to enjoy their big day.
So if you are wanting a more traditional approach to your wedding day, then why not take note of some of these? Something tells me you won’t be disappointed!