Are you going to smash that piece of cake onto your love’s face?
According to Mental Floss Magazine what may have been the predecessor to the very first cake smashing was: the breaking of bread over the bride’s head (circa Roman Empire). Back in the day, the groom would help himself to a bite of barley bread and then the remainder of the loaf was held above the brides head and then broken. She enjoyed a shower of crumbs and a soul-crushing message of her husband’s male dominance; as it symbolized the breaking of the bride’s virginal state and the subsequent dominance of the groom over her. If you were such a lucky guest, you could pick up a wayward crumb and your reward would be, more luck. Was there a lottery back then? The tradition evolved as cake emerged onto the scene as the preferred confection for a wedding celebration. Lucky for the bride, a cake doesn’t behave like a loaf of bread and so it was sliced on a table instead. Rather than scrounge on the floor for a crumb, guests would stand in line whilst the bride passed tiny, fortune-blessed morsels of cake through, yes this is correct, through her own wedding ring into the hands of the waiting guests. This tradition evolved (very quickly I would hope!) and thus began the tradition of slicing the cake and giving it to each guest. But wait, there is more, the guest did not eat the cake because it was to be place under their pillow for good luck. The ladies were to have sweet dreams of their future husbands. Who knew flour could produce so much luck!
The custom of tiered cakes emerged from a game where the bride and groom attempted to kiss over an ever-higher cake without knocking it over. Something about the higher the layer, the greater the fertility?!
So, in the U.S. we have typically a white cake, sometimes a grooms cake of color. And according to Dummies.com the smashing of cake in the face has gone by the wayside; apparently, ‘in the past’, the cake cutting was anticlimactic and the bride and groom took this boring moment and livened up the place by acting out some aggression and smashing the cake onto the others face. Now a days it is all lovey dovey and a romantic moment, right? But, traditionally the cake cutting and eating, I did not say smashing, was a symbolic first meal as husband and wife.
I did not know this but Dummies.com states that in the past the cake cutting is used to signal the end of the wedding, the bride and groom would change and be off. Modern day, the cake cutting is a segue after which people who want to leave may do so. As a side note, Dummies adds that the band/DJ should be ready to begin as soon as the cake cutting ends, “— if the music ebbs now, your party is over.” I think that is some valuable advice!
If you would like to read more details about wedding cake traditions, I thought that Hudson Valley Weddings was very informative! Check it out if you have a minute.