A brief discussion on the history of Christmas Cakes.
Christmas and Cake, a long history…
Whether looking to make, or for the best Christmas cake to buy this year. Why do Christmas and cake have a timeless affinity.
Christmas is bound by festive joy and tradition. Yet, the themes and traditions crucial to Christmas, have a long history, predating the festival in the contemporary context.
Many of the themes and traditions associated with Christmas existed before the medieval ages. Pre-existing Pagan and Roman celebrations fused with the expansion of the Roman Empire. And were adopted into Christmas with the arrival of Christianity.
The Romans celebrated the end of the year with a week-long festival named Saturnalia. And, cake was an important feature!
Saturnalia began on the 17th December, and included dressing up, decorating houses in greenery, lighting candles and giving presents. Much like modern Christmas.
However, Saturnalia was a time when norms and conventions were upheaved. A mock king was elected. With the sole purpose of presiding over the celebrations, perpetuating mischief. A concept which survived in Christmas celebrations up into the Victorian period; As the Lord and Lady of Misrule. Who presided over the Twelfth Night Celebrations. More on that later!
The “Leader of Saturnalia” named the Saturnalicus Princeps (Lord of Misrule), was elected by lot, or through cake!
False Kings, Christmas cakes and hidden coins.
A coin was hidden inside a small cake, whoever found it was crowned as mock king. Hiding small tokens in a cake is another tradition that has existed throughout the ages. The Christmas Sixpence, which is hidden inside a Christmas pudding or cake as a token of good fortune, being a recent example of this tradition.
The Pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice is documented as the oldest winter celebration in the world. Falling on the shortest day of the year (21st December). Pliny The Elder (the author of the first encyclopaedia!), reported that druid priests in the British Isles would mark the important date by gathering mistletoe. And, a Yule Log was a prominent feature during the Winter Solstice.
In contemporary times, the importance of the yule log is recognised in the form of a Bûche de Noël. A popular Christmas Cake to buy or make in French speaking countries that imitates a yule log.
The Traditional Christmas Cake
In Britain, the traditional Christmas Cake, originally began as a Twelfth Cake. An elaborately decorated fruit cake, eaten on the twelfth night of Christmas.
The twelve days of Christmas have been celebrated since the medieval times. Starting on the 25th December and ending on the 5th January. The twelfth night was the concluding feast to twelve days of festive merriment. globally, the day is still celebrated today for its relation to the Feast of the Epiphany.
In reference to the three kings, Twelfth cakes were typically decorated with crowns. However, by late Georgian Britain, they became increasingly popular as Christmas cakes to buy, owing to their increasingly extravagant decorations. With towering displays depicting festive scenes becoming a common sight within London’s bakeries.
A bean and pea was also hidden inside the cake. Whoever found the bean would become ruling king of the twelfth night feast. While the pea was used to nominate the queen.
Today, the twelfth day of Christmas is the day the decorations come down. And we no longer celebrate the twelve days of Christmas with a two week long festival.
The festival was allegedly banned by Queen Victoria for becoming too riotous. However, the culprit is more likely to be the advent of industrialisation. With it, the urbanisation of working patterns.
As we no longer had as much time as our agrarian ancestors. The festive season condensed into Christmas Day. The Twelfth Cake, thankfully, survived as the Christmas Cake.
While the the concept of a Christmas cake has broadened beyond the traditional fruit cake. Our cakes are still lavishly decorated with Christmas decorations today. From toppers, to royal icing. Christmas cakes still take centre places at our tables.
Festive Chocolate Orange Cake
Christmas cakes have come a long way.
This year, we’ve paired a timeless combination to create our new Festive Chocolate Orange cake.
This pairing was a favourite of Spanish Royalty and is sure to add some WOW factor to your Christmas table.
Moist chocolate orange sponges are infused with Orange Zest. Then, filled with a deliciously decadent salted caramel buttercream.
Finally, topped with a 70% dark chocolate orange ganache.
This cake doesn’t merely taste sublime.
A crowning glittering gold holly wreath adorns this cake. Chunks of terry chocolate orange and dark chocolate holly wreathes are brushed with gold. Then, four different types of golden sprinkles are speckled around the wreath.
The best Christmas cake to buy this Christmas!
Christmas and cake have been around for a long time. From the Romans to the Victorians. They all Celebrated with the cake.
While this cake was made with Christmas in mind. It is fitting for any seasonal occasion.
With winter warming flavours and golden decorations, bringing some brightness to darker months. This cake is fit for anyone.
This cake won’t be around for long. So hurry. Before it’s gone.
Send a Festive Chocolate Orange Cake by post – next day delivery within mainland UK.
There are three simple steps to order a cake online and to show you care:
1: First, select your choice from our range of handmade gourmet cakes.
2: Then, show your appreciation and include a thoughtful message.
3: Finally, enter the shipping details.