Sunday, June 15, 2008

Dead Cakes & Sin Eaters

The Doed Koeck (death cake) is found in many cultures, but the Dutch and the Pennyslvania Germans are known for making these cookie-like cakes from flour, butter, ashes, sugar and caraway seeds. An "inviter" would set out on horseback, dressed in a fancy black costume to invite certain neighbors, friends  and family members to a funeral. The inviter would show up at a house, announce the name of the deceased and the time and date of the funeral. (it was not an option to say 'no' to any invitation to a funeral.) The inviter then gave out two doed-koecks, and a bottle of wine. Usually, only one doed- koeck was consumed with the wine. The other was kept as a momento. The dead cake was symbolically filled with the sins of the dead person. By eating these sin-filled dead cakes, people were helping the deceased find easy passage into heaven. 
The dead cakes had the initials of the deceased etched into them or added by decoration. the cookie-like cakes were larger than the ones shown here, and would have had both initials, (in this case "A.G.") on each cake. Usually doed-koecks were home made, but a 1748 advertisement for a bakery in a Philadelphia newspaper offered a wide variety of Dead cakes and pastries for sale.


Elise said...

That's very interesting... I never knew about any of that. I really like your blog! ^^


mouse (aka kimy) said... did I miss this interesting bit of trivia. this blog is great, one never knows what interesting bits I'll find!

eva said...

dead cakes is a well good idea! mine will have to be massive. i like rituals. your blog made me think about this place i went to ages ago, the bone church aka the sedlec ossuary just outside prague. i posted some photos of it in my blog: