Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue:
Part 3- Wedding Superstitions- Food and Family
Welcome to part three of Wedding Superstitions and Traditions! The final chapter in this short series is all about the traditions and superstitions for weddings surrounding food and family. From who bakes the cakes, to ancient beliefs, to family traditions all around the world, there are many ‘rules’ to follow when it comes to food and family at weddings.
The wedding cake has long been a center piece for brides and grooms to enjoy on their big day. This instillation of this food art did not originate as the multi-tiered masterpieces we see in bridal magazines today. The wedding cake began as a humble loaf of bread in Ancient Rome. It became tradition to break the loaf of bread over the head of the bride to ensure her good fortune and fertility. From there, the wedding cake has developed over the generations to become one of the most iconic parts of a wedding. Although most modern wedding cakes are sweet in flavor, that was not the case in the past. In England during Medieval times, brides and grooms would lean over a pile of buns to kiss, which was thought to bring about a prosperous future. As the wedding cake developed over the years to become a sweet treat, this game of kissing over the cake continued. It is thought to have been the inspiration for the invention of tiered wedding cakes, to give the bride and groom more of a challenge. Although this tradition of kissing over the cake has faded, tiered cakes are still very common. Traditionally, once the cake was cut, and the celebration was complete, the sisters of the bride would take a piece of the wedding cake home with them. Each sister would then need to sleep with the cake under their pillow, to ensure they would find a husband. This was a much more common tradition when the cake was similar to a bun, and did not have frosting. Similarly, there is a superstition that states when the eldest daughter marries, a piece of her wedding cake must be left in the family home, or no other girls in the family will marry. Before worrying about the cake after the wedding, brides need to consider who will be making the cake. Be sure to use a catering company, or a family member, or even a friend to make the cake, as it is considered very bad luck for a bride to make her own cake. Most catering companies will offer cake cutting services, however, it is considered good luck for the bride to be the first one to cut the cake. Just be careful, as any cake related accidents, such as dropping the cake, are believed to bring about sorrow early in the marriage.
Some brides may find all of these superstitions very stressful, so in some cultures around the world, traditions have arisen for family members to help the newly married couple start out their lives together on the right foot. To give the bride and groom a break after all the months of wedding planning stress, in Egypt, the bride’s family will cook all the meals for the newlyweds for the first week after their wedding. This tradition allows the couple to relax and focus on completing the post-wedding tasks, such as ‘thank you’ notes. In order to bring good luck to a new marriage, in South Africa, parents of both the bride and groom will carry fire from their own hearths to light a new fire in the newlywed’s hearth. This represents the combining of the two families, with the parents lighting the way with love from their own relationships, guiding the love of the new marriage. Over in Sweden, the mother and father of the bride will each give her a coin to put in her shoes. This superstition requires a silver coin from her father, and a gold coin from her mother, and is believed to ensure that the new bride will never go without. Traditionally in the United States, the bride is walked down the aisle and ‘given away’ by her father. This stems from the days when women went from their father’s house to their husband’s house, and were basically considered property. Thankfully this is no longer the case, however, the tradition now continues as a way for loving fathers to send their daughters off right with a last ‘daddy-daughter’ moment. This tradition has also developed over the years to include mothers, brothers, or other close family members ‘giving away’ the bride, when the father is either not available, or not involved in the bride’s life.
As we come to the end of the Wedding Traditions and Superstitions series, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the ‘rules’ surrounding weddings. The important thing to remember, is that you are the one planning your big day, and you get to decide what traditions and superstitions to follow, or not to follow. Not all couples closely follow all the wedding traditions and superstitions, as it has become popular for brides to walk themselves down the aisle, and destination weddings make it difficult for parents to share fires from their hearths. Whatever you decide to do, it’s your big day, and you should enjoy it! Follow the old traditions, or start your own traditions. Just do you! Thanks for reading, and good luck wedding planning!