Historically, June is the most popular month for weddings. On average, 7,000 couples get married each day in the United States, and $72 billion a year is spent on weddings. Wedding myths, traditions and superstitions abound, many of which are centered around food. Following are some wedding food traditions from around the world.
What’s a wedding without cake? The wedding cake is considered a symbol of good luck in many countries. This originates from ancient Rome, when wedding guests broke a loaf of bread over a bride’s head. In Medieval England, cakes were stacked as high as possible for the bride and groom to kiss over. If they successfully kissed over the stack, they were guaranteed a prosperous life together.
In the United States, the cake is often multi-tiered, and it is a tradition to save the top layer to eat on the first anniversary. In the United Kingdom, the cake is likely to be a fruitcake, and a piece is saved for the first child’s christening. In France, the “cake” might be a tower of cream puffs covered in sugar or chocolate. In India, rather than a cake, a honey yogurt is served to symbolize a sweet, long life. The tradition of feeding the cake to each other symbolizes a pledge of unity and trust. In some countries, unmarried guests are given a slice of the wedding cake to take home and put under their pillows so they will dream of their future spouse.
The wedding reception is a time to show off the hosts’ generosity. Moroccans greet guests with milk and dates to signify safety, happiness and a sweet, smooth life. Brazilians serve casadinhos, small sandwich cookies that represent the married couple coming together. Mexicans might serve goat meat, which is considered an aphrodisiac. In the Philippines, guests are offered a sticky treat made from rice and coconut that symbolizes that the couple are now “glued together”.
Jordan almonds are given to guests in Italy to symbolize the sweet and bitter of life together. The bride and groom give five to each guest to represent good health, prosperity, happiness, longevity and fertility. Rice is a staple at weddings in Thailand to show the importance of love. And in Korea, long noodles are served as a wish for a long life.
The wedding toast is called a “toast” because of an old French custom in which a piece of bread was placed in the bottom of a cup of wine. The cup was passed around, ending with the person being “toasted,” who was to eat the bread.
Superstitious individuals might consider that the Scottish believe it is unlucky to have the color green in a wedding, including green vegetables at the meal. This is because green is an omen of revenge. Greek brides will slip a lump of sugar in their gown or glove to ensure sweetness through their married life. In Poland, the bride and groom eat a bite of bread to ensure that they will never go hungry. Of course in the United States, brides often wear something old (symbolizing continuity with the past), something new (to represent the future), something borrowed (to transfer happiness and luck to the new bride), and something blue (a symbol of purity, fidelity and love).
Page 2 of 2 - Do you know why rice traditionally is thrown at the newlyweds? Rice is the symbol of fertility and prosperity. The French might throw wheat, the English-pieces of cake or bread, and the Czech throw peas, but all for the same reason. In Korea, guests throw chestnuts at the bride and the number she catches in her skirt represent how many children she will have.
Now you know the origin of some of the traditions you are likely to see next time you attend a wedding.
Anita Marlay, R.D., L.D., is a dietitian in the cardiac rehab department at Lake Regional Health System in Osage Beach, Mo.