An old-style Slovak wedding kasha – was it a starter or a dessert?

First things first – you wouldn’t hear about a starter or a dessert a hundred years ago, when kashas were part of each and every Slovak wedding. There was no wedding menu as we know it today, neither was there a written seating plan or candles or confetti. Yet there were quite a few norms, traditions and rituals carried out throughout the wedding night, some of them unique to a particular region or area.

Cepcenie ritual
Photo courtesy of Iveta Balážová

Kasha (a kind of porridge) appeared in all Slavic weddings, not only Slovak ones. It was seen as a symbol of abundance and prosperity back in the first half of the 20th century. Like other wedding dishes, it reflected the family’s social status and wealth. Millet, buckwheat or barley kashas with butter and honey were served in poor families, while those of better means would offer a semolina or rice kasha lavish with butter, nuts, sugar and honey, sprinkled with cinnamon and topped with ground gingerbread.wedding kasha

Often an apple, which was considered an aphrodisiac, was placed on the table in front of the bride and the groom alongside the kasha. The two of them shared a bowl and a spoon while eating to show their newly acquired unity. Depending on the region or local customs, the kasha was served either at the beginning of the wedding dinner or at its end – a signal to the wedding guests that it was about the time to make their farewells.

Unlike these days, wedding dishes of our ancestors were supposed to fill you up rather than marvel at the creativity of the chef (or a catering company). And no, you won’t find kashas on the wedding menus today. Nor will you see them made for breakfast or supper as it was the norm when I and my children were growing up. A simple wheat kasha or krupica (made from scratch at home) was sure to keep your baby asleep all through the night. What else a young mother could wish for?

wedding traditions
Photo courtesy of Iveta Balážová

The photos above and below are teasers for the forthcoming Winter Book of A Taste of Slovakia series – the third in a row – which has a chapter on both the traditional and modern Slovak wedding. You will find a recipe for an old-style wedding kasha there, as well as some other customs that were (and some still are) part of a Slovak wedding night. Like what a čepčenie ritual envolved and why it was performed at midnight.

snimanie zeleneho vienka
Photo courtesy of Iveta Balážová

The book is about to go to print and I promise you have a lot to look forward to.

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