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Cake Cutting Traditions and Etiquette

Find out more about traditions and etiquette of cake cutting

Cake cutting is a significant ritual in many cultures and traditions. Depending on where in the world you are or what religion you are a member of, you may have a different technical or ritual to cutting a cake, compared to someone else on the other side of the world. Most of these traditions are involved in wedding cake cutting, but some traditions may be used for other occasions, such as birthdays.

Cutting Cakes Around the World

For weddings in the Western hemisphere, the bride and groom usually stand side by side, holding a knife together, and cut the first slice of the wedding cake. They then feed each other a bite of cake, symbolizing their commitment to each other. Not everyone does it this way, but if you go to a more traditional wedding then this is likely what will happen when the couple cut their cake.

Moving across to the east, in traditional Chinese weddings, the cake is usually made from glutinous rice flour and shaped like a rooster or a dragon. The cake is cut by the bride and groom using a ceremonial knife, and the first slice is given to the oldest member of the family.

In Indian weddings, the cake cutting ceremony is often combined with the "mangalsutra" ritual, where the bride ties a sacred necklace around the groom's neck. The cake is cut by the couple, and the first slice is fed to each other, much like at a Western-style wedding.

Jewish wedding cake cutting traditions are a bit different. The cake cutting ceremony is known as the "yichud." The bride and groom go into a private room together and share a slice of cake, symbolizing their new life together.

When it comes to Mexican weddings, the cake is often decorated with colourful flowers and ribbons. The cake cutting ceremony is a lively affair, with the bride and groom smashing the cake into each other's faces as a playful gesture. It may sound messy, but it’s an awful lot of fun, and there are other countries (such as North America), where this tradition is starting to be added to weddings there too.

In Japanese weddings, the cake is often decorated with cherry blossoms or other traditional motifs. The cake cutting ceremony is performed with a sword, and the first slice is offered to the gods. We’ll get on to another cake cutting ceremony with a sword soon.

Royal Cake Cutting

The British royal family has its own unique cake cutting traditions that date back many years.

One of the most notable things is that the royal family is known for having elaborate wedding cakes that are often multi-tiered and highly decorated. The cake is usually cut with a ceremonial sword or knife, and the first slice is traditionally given to the Queen or King.

The royal family has a long-standing tradition of baking a Christmas fruitcake. You may be familiar to the process of starting the Christmas cake batter and everyone getting a turn to mix it. We imagine that the Royals have a similar tradition, although they may not do the entire process by themselves. When it comes to enjoying their Christmas cake, the cake is usually cut by the youngest member of the family and served with tea.

When a member of the royal family celebrates a birthday, a special cake is often baked for the occasion, it could be baked by their favourite baker, for instance, shortly after winning The Great British Bake Off, Nadiya Hussain was asked to bake a birthday cake for Queen Elizabeth II. The cake is usually cut by the birthday person themselves, and sometimes they will invite children from local schools to join in the celebrations.

During state occasions, such as the Queen's official birthday celebrations, a cake is often served as part of the festivities. The cake is usually cut by the Queen or another senior member of the royal family.

The royal family is involved in many charitable organizations, and they often participate in fundraising events that involve cake cutting. The cake is usually cut by the patron of the charity or by a member of the royal family who is closely associated with the organization. One of the most memorable of these events was shortly after the pandemic had ended, the Queen, along with the then Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge attended the Big Lunch in Cornwall. It was to celebrate those who volunteered to help others during the pandemic, as a way of saying thanks. During the event, they were presented with a large sheet cake, and the Queen was offered Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall’s sword to do the honours with. There was a little bit of a moment of struggle, with the Queen being offered advice from the Duchesses. With a bit of assistance from the Duchess of Cambridge, they manage to successfully make the first cut. Then the Queen left the Duchess of Cambridge to finish the job in the end.

What Cake Cutting Techniques Say About You

Recently, there have been new trends in cake cutting, especially as people reach for virality through Facebook/Instagram reels and TikTok videos. And the way you cut a cake can also say a lot about your personality too.

Classic Slices – The Loyal One

You’re into the classics but you never let anyone tell you you’re “basic”. If you’re cutting a cake into traditional wedges, you’re sweet, simple, and adored by many. What you see is what you get and you probably like the traditional ways of how things are done. You can’t help but over-analyse every situation and there’s a big possibility of you making a ‘pros and cons’ list before taking any risks. However, you’re clear about what you want in life and you’re more than likely following your ’ 5-year plan’ on how to get there.

Did you know, cutting a cake into even slices is perfect for smaller bakes? Not only are you able to indulge in a generous piece of yummy cake, but everyone gets an equal measure of the icing, toppings, and decedent buttercream - it really is a win-win for all parties!

Rectangles – The Party Host

If your go-to way to cut a cake is in rectangles, you’re definitely the type of person who enjoys keeping everyone entertained. You typically get invited to everything (that’s if you’re not the one hosting yourself), meaning you sometimes struggle to make sure you’re not double-booked.

While you might come across as methodical and structured to people at first, once you’ve come out of your shell and they get to know you, they realise that being strategic and reliable is in fact extremely cool.

You face hurdles like a pro and find a way to turn them into a party (where you can serve unlimited pieces of cake) but the best thing about you is you know how to keep people happy. Not only are you the life of the party, but you’re the type of friend who people will always turn to at 2am for a good cry, their daily dose of life advice, or when they need consoling. There’s one thing for sure, you do a great job at easing their minds.

Wine Glass Hack – The Adventurous One

A trend that arose in 2021, the ‘wine glass hack’ is a creative and revolutionary new way to cut and serve the cake. If you’re cutting a cake with a wine glass, the chances are you’re on the go and prioritise the fun things in life. Whether it’s on the beach with your nearest and dearest, or enjoying a picnic in the park, you seek adventure and it’s no wonder you’re ready for anything life throws at you. At first, people may not know what to think of you as unusual ways of thinking may come across as ‘wild’, but you have a soft heart really.

You’re the kind of person who loves to take risks. While everyone was sceptical of trying the unconventional way of cutting a cake, you are happy to lead the way to try new things and never hesitate to challenge the norm!

Random Shapes – The Rulebreaker

You are eager to fulfill your dreams at any cost and even though you don’t know how you’re going to get there; you know you can make it happen. Whatever you decide on, you give it 110% and approach everything with zest!

Want to give your cake-cutting skills a go? Why not order a cake today with next-day delivery from Sponge? It doesn’t even need to be a special occasion; you could just order yourself a cake for an afternoon treat.