Founder’s Day Cake
My informant described what her school does to celebrate its birthday every year:
“This cake is baked for Founders’ day every year, which is in January, to celebrate the day the school was founded. It is a big deal because on that day the headmaster speaks at chapel. There is a big speech and it’s a big deal and a ton of parents come. The Seniors are presented with the Founder’s day cake, which has baked into it 4 objects. There is a ring, a cross, a dime, and thimble. The girl who gets the ring will be married first, the girl who gets the cross will be most religious, the girl who gets the dime will make the most money, and the girl that gets the thimble is the most hardworking. In recent years, the cross has found the most ironic individual because the girl was the least spiritual. “
My informant says “ I feel like it is supposed to, in some ways, represent the founding core values. The school is 128 years old, so when it was founded there were different expectations of importance in people’s life, like now religion isn’t so important even though the school has a religious affiliation (it isn’t a strong part of the our school). It isn’t as if marriage isn’t a big deal, but it isn’t as favorable as it was over a hundred years ago. Marriage isn’t a sign of success anymore. But even if these are dated, for me it is important that the tradition continues. Though these things aren’t important to me, I like that nothing has been changed even though the times have. Even if it wont predict my future, it is still a “Senior ritual”. The year above me, it was done improperly because 4 cakes were baked instead of one, and it really upset the Seniors because it wasn’t the tradition. It just feels good to do the tradition.
All of the objects, and even baking the cake in general, symbolize traditional feminine roles. Connecting the students to the core values of the school, this tradition reminds the students of the characteristics that the school has valued for many years, involving the students in the schools history. This reinforces their identity as students in the school. At the same time, the objects in the cake are instances of homeopathic magic, which entertain the girls and represent luck in the future in certain areas of life.