Our much-awaited summer season starts to really accelerate as we roll into the month of June.
Traditionally, this is the month of brides, so here’s a little shot of matrimonial trivia for you. Do you know the origin of the wedding cake? It’s a symbol of fertility that goes back to upper-class Roman weddings. The bride and groom shared a small piece of the wedding cake which was a simple scone made of flour, salt and water. The sharing of the cake symbolized a life of plenty — in both children and happiness.
The next part of the Roman wedding tradition is a little hard to believe.
After the bride and groom sampled the cake, it was broken over the bride's head! Strange, but carefully documented by our weird research staff. At this point, the wedding guests proceeded to scramble on the floor for the cake fragments, hoping that they too would share in the good fortune represented by the cake.
Down through the ages, the wedding cake ritual has endured even if, thankfully, the cake-breaking and guest-scrambling variations have long since faded away. It seems far more dignified to simply pass among the guests with samples of the cake, as is done today. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something a little different at your impending wedding, maybe this ancient custom is right up your alley — er, aisle.
On the June calendar:
• June 6, 1816 — “The cold summer” started in eastern Canada and the eastern seaboard of the U.S. How cold was it? It was so cold that frost, hail and snow occurred during June, July and August! So, I guess we’re not the only ones who have weather setbacks at the most inopportune time. Mother Nature certainly can be fickle, can’t she?
• June 11, 1910 — The Printers Association of America began a campaign against the showing of women’s skirts on billboards. The passage of the years has made quite a difference in billboard styles, hasn’t it?
• June 16 — Father’s Day. It was a veteran dad who said: “No man knows his true character until he has run out of gas, purchased something on credit, or raised an adolescent!”
• June 21 — The long-awaited arrival of summer. The first official day of summer is also the longest day of the year. The astronomers call this the Summer Solstice. In the old days, what followed was called Midsummer Eve, which was a period that was dreaded by the people of Europe. In centuries past, they lit huge bonfires to encourage the sun because they greatly feared it’s slow descent into winter.
It seems that Midsummer was also a festival for lovers in those days gone by. Sweethearts in German villages would join hands and jump over the bonfires as onlookers commented critically on the foolishness. Apparently, this was the beginning of the generation-gap, as well. European immigrants took their midsummer customs to South America, where it’s still a major festival in countries such as Brazil and Paraguay.
A modern North American variation on the Midsummer observance occurs in Alaska where, at the time of the summer solstice, they hold the annual Midnight Sun Baseball Tournament. At midnight in Fairbanks, Alaska, they have a baseball tournament without the benefit of artificial light. They play ball by the light of the midnight sun.
• June 30, 1896 — W.S. Hadway patented the first electric stove. The cynics scoffed and said it wouldn’t be much good, except, maybe, as a boat anchor.