The Folklore & Superstition of Tea and Cake
The superstitions revolving around teas and their rituals, along with certain aspects of cake are at times forgotten.
The supernatural use of tea:
- Protection - dry tea leaves were sometimes scattered on the front-door step of a new home to protect it from evil spirits.
- Tea can be used to predict strangers - If a single stalk floats on top of a cup of tea, it means that a stranger is coming - a hard, woody stalk indicates a male visitor and a soft stalk, a female. The length of the stalk tells you whether he or she will be tall or short. To find out when they will come, lay the stalk on the back of the left hand and hit it with the right. However many hits it takes to knock it off tells the number of days before they will stand at your door.
- Fortune telling with tea leaves - To tell fortunes from tea cups, the tea must be brewed with loose leaf tea and poured into the cup without using a tea strainer. The person whose future is to be divined must turn his or her cup three times in an anticlockwise direction. To do this the cup should be held in the left hand and turned by the handle. Then it is tipped upside down to drain off the last few drops of tea. It is a bad sign if there are a lot of leaves left in the bottom of the cup. But it is a good sign if the leaves are scattered evenly over the bottom and sides. The fortune teller then analyses the pictures and images that are visible in the leaves in order to foretell the tea drinker’s fate. If the leaves are deposited in the bottom foretell the distant future. The sides of the cup represent the not-too-distant future, and leaves that lie near the rim predict imminent events.
Common tea herbs & their properties:
- Chamomile - It is connected to the element of water. It helps cleanse the throat chakra. It promotes calm and tranquil energies, as well as a peaceful sleep.
- Vanilla - It is connected to the element of fire. It is used for confidence, love, and prosperity.
- Thyme - It is connected to the element of air. It is thought to help evoke the ability of clairvoyance, as well as psychic development.
- It is a bad omen if boiling water was poured into an empty pot - that is, if the tea-maker forgot to put in any tea-leaves.
- If the tea was weaker than intended, a friend will turn away from you; but if it came out too strong, a new friendship was on the horizon.
- It is unlucky to stir the pot prior to pouring - it will result in a quarrel. It is also ominous to stir tea with anything other than a spoon.
- To spill a little tea while making it is a lucky omen.
- To put milk in your tea before sugar is to cross the path of love, perhaps never to marry.
- Tea spilling from the spout of the teapot while being carried indicates a secret will be revealed.
- Undissolved sugar in the bottom of your teacup means that there is someone sweet on you.
- If the tag falls off the teabag while it’s in your cup, you will lose something within a week.
- The Ancient Greeks were the first to write Happy Birthday on a cake in edible writing - relating to the worship of the moon goddess ‘Artemis.’ Her birthday was celebrated by eating moon-shaped honey cakes with candles on the top. It was said that bad spirits were attracted to celebrations so it was very important to wish a person a 'happy birthday,’ blow out the candles and read any wishes inscribed on the cake as a kind of magical protection.
- Many believe that candles blown in order to make a wish are only fulfilled if they areblown in one breath. It is said by some, that the smoke from blown out candles carries their wishes to the Heavens.
- The tradition of a wedding cake comes from ancient Rome, where revelers broke a loaf of bread over a bride’s head to increase the chances of fertility.
- Legend says single women will dream of their future husbands if they sleep with a slice of groom’s cake under their pillows.
- Eating the crumbs of a wedding cake will bring you good luck.
- In the 18th century, newlywed couples would try to keep the cake until their first anniversary to prevent them from marriage problems in the future. This is one of the reasons why cakes in the 18th century were made of fruits and blended with wine.
- People tend to save a piece of Christmas cake for New Year because not doing so is said to bring bad luck in the subsequent year.
- Cutting a Christmas cakes before Christmas Eve is said to cause bad luck.
- The dumb-cake was made at midnight on Christmas Eve is prepared in complete silence by the bachelors and spinsters. One who made it left their initials on the upper surface of the cake. If the silence remained unbroken, the future partner was believed to come and leave their initials on the cake. If one walked backwards to bed after eating dumb-cake, a dream about a future spouse was sure to visit them.
Other cake superstitions:
- A Victorian superstition states that placing a piece of fruit cake under one’s pillow will cause a dream of their future spouse.
- If food is being served at tea-time, the person to take the last piece of cake from the plate will be the first to get married.
- Tipping over a slice of cake while serving a guest is said to bring bad luck.
- The ancients gave cakes away on days of new beginnings and celebrations, believing they had some magical way to guarantee fertility, good luck, riches and drive away evil.