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The History and Customs of Wedding Cakes

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The Birth of the Wedding Cake

Today wedding customs worldwide are very similar. In countries as diverse as China and Australia, England and Fiji many of the traditions are found. They all come from the same sentiment to bring the Happy Couple good luck on their wedding day and in their future life together.

The Worlds Oldest Tradition

The baking of a wedding cake is believed to be one of the oldest traditions. It is not known exactly where it began. Five thousand years ago in the time of the Greeks and Romans, it was a well-established part of a wedding celebration.

Cakes to satisfy the Greek gods.

Greek gods were common guests at weddings in 3000bc; each one was believed to have an enormous appetite that needed to be satisfied if the marriage was to be happy and successful. Favourite foods amongst the gods were dried fruits, nuts and honey cakes

The Bride Is Crowned With a Cake

As the Roman civilisation became greater the wedding ceremony became known by the name confarreate. The marriage vows were said in front of a head priest and ten witnesses. To complete the ceremony the wedding cake was crumbled over the bride’s head to bless her with an abundance of everything, especially children.

The Cake Comes to Australia

The ‘cake crowning’ remained in place for 2000 years. People then made small buns consisting of sugar, eggs, milk, spices and currants, these were made by the bride and her family. Some of the buns were thrown over the bride’s head as she arrived at the wedding breakfast, others were eaten by the guests or kept to be placed that night under the pillows of unmarried girls who believed it would make their dream of their future husband.

The French Wedding Cake

A French man came up with the idea of an iced wedding cake; the French chefs found that the piles of buns at the wedding breakfast looked unappetising. To make the cakes more desirable they iced them with a crust of hardened white sugar and decorated them with trinkets and toys.

As time went on the bride’s family began to provide two wedding cakes as part of the wedding breakfast, one to keep the old tradition the other became more elaborate and highly decorated. This wedding cake tradition remained in the British Commonwealth well into this century. One cake was known as the bride’s cake and the other was known as the groom’s cake. The groom’s cake always a dark fruit cake was cut into small pieces and placed in boxes for the guests to take home as a memento of the wedding, while the bride’s cake a lighter mixture and highly decorated would be eaten as a dessert after the meal.

Wedding Cakes in Other Cultures

Cakes play an important role in many countries, brides in Asia, India, The Pacific Islands and Africa all sealed their wedding by backing and eating a special cake that represented fertility.