Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Cake Pull or Ribbon Pull - A Suthun Tradition?

In my travels and travails, I've unearthed a Southern Tradition which I had no idea even existed. It's called the Cake Pull (no, I'm not speaking of actually pulling a cake, like a tractor pull, let's keep it high class shall we?) The Cake Pull, also known as a Ribbon Pull, is found at the rehearsal dinner, or at the Bridesmaids' lunch, or at the wedding itself right before the cake is cut. (I suppose it really doesn't matter so long as there is cake. There should always be cake! In fact, there is a nice cake in our fridge right now - toffee with a chocolate frosting...but again, I digress...)

Usually there is one ribbon for each bridesmaid but I've seen mention that in some weddings, they invite all the single and unattached ladies in attendance to come up to the cake and take a ribbon found sticking out of the bottom of the cake. (Makes your RSVP just a little more important!) At the same time (a prearranged signal, perhaps a gong, siren or starting pistol), they all pull the ribbons out from under the cake. Each ribbon is attached to a charm and each charm (usually all different) as well as being covered in tasty goodness, has a special meaning for the future. (There is usually one ring among the charms of hot air balloons, rainbows and angels. The ring means that the one who received it will be the next to marry, proving once again the prognostication abilities of baked pastry and butter cream icing. ) Here are a few more charms and their meanings for those taking notes:
Popsicle: Life of sweet surprises
Horseshoe: Good luck will find you
Airplane: Life of travel and adventure
Crown: You'll be treated like a princess
Nail Polish: Enjoy fun nights out
Text Happy Face: Good news soon
Corkscrew: Lots to celebrate
Key: Love holds the key to your heart
Angel: Someone will watch over you
Star: You will always find your way 
Castle: You will live happily ever after
Sunglasses: Life of leisure
Shoe: May you always find one that fits
Mermaid: You are a free spirit
Ship: A Life of Adventure and travel
Saxophone: A Life in harmony

The charms can be silver or gold and after the icing is licked off (can't let all that sweet goodness go to waste) the charms are either kept by the ladies as a nice memento of their participation in the wedding, or are donated to the bride to make a charm bracelet. (That's right, the bride wants a bracelet of charms covered in leftover frosting and bridesmaid saliva. How memorable...)

You'll find this tradition mostly around New Orleans and some in Georgia, but in truth, the tradition has its roots in Victorian England, where the charms were used to advertise the wealth and position of the family giving the wedding. In the months and years after the wedding, each time the charm was shown by the ex-bridesmaid to their friends, there would be stories of the size of the cake, the number of bridesmaids, the food and perhaps even the location. The better the charms (gold being the most admired) the more prestige perceived and the more embellishment by the story teller.

I don't get to many weddings around these parts, but I have to say that I'm a bit upset that there is no alternative for the men. Perhaps a barrel with ropes hanging out of it and each man pulls out the rope, at the end of which is a nice cold non-light beer. (Always Non Light Beer.  Always.) The one who gets the IMPORTED beer would be the next to ...well.... get another beer. (It has been pointed out that the typical Suthun Wedding guest might not be open to IMPORTED beer. I must explain: I speak of Non-Light Beer imported from some exotic location such as Pennsylvania.  Yeah, that's imported!)

Ah. Tradition.

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