Sunday, February 20, 2011

Something Old, Something New, Something Flaky Over You

Weddings, whenever possible, tend to be almost prohibitively expensive. Any wedding party, particularly those marrying for the first time, will readily justify it, as it's a once-in-a-lifetime event they hope to remember fondly until death do they part, and how can you possibly put a price on memories?

We're not going to delve into the merits of this. I'm not opening that can of worms. It's still too nippy out to be running for my life.

What we can do, though, is check off all the different things (in addition to the actual wedding license) that contribute to the price tag, of which one apparently must purchase as many as financially possible: the church, the reception, the tux rentals, the wedding dress, the catering, the photographer, a DJ or other entertainment, the honeymoon, limo rental, and of course the multi-tiered cake.

Have you considered smashing the cake over the bride's head?

If not, clearly you are not an ancient Roman. (Several other signs may point to this, chief among them the fact that you are not a skeletal zombie.) This was what was done with the earliest version of the wedding cake, which wasn't cake so much as crumbly barley bread. The bride and groom would both nibble at the bread, and then the bread was broken over the bride's head. The guests, for good luck, would then run in and try to pick up the crumbs.

Over time, the bread became a bunch of biscuits after Rome conquered England, buns (possibly topped with marzipan) in Elizabethian times, and fruitcakes with sugar icing in 17th-century France; all were still broken over the bride's head. The United States was the one to dump the cake-breaking custom, replacing it with cutting it into slices. They made two cakes- a pound cake for the bride, a fruitcake for the groom. Eventually, the two were stacked on top of each other. For a while, the fruitcake remained the top layer, until people decided they didn't feel like having fruitcake on their wedding day, at which point people just started flavoring the cake however the hell they wanted.

Why would someone decide that breaking cake over the bride's head was a good idea? It was thought that breaking the cake was symbolic of breaking the bride's virginity.

Today, if you broke the cake over the bride's head, it would be a symbol of you maintaining yours.

Programming note; I'm hoping to be in Madison tomorrow.

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