Definitions

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A cake made in silence on St. Mark's Eve, with numerous ceremonies, by maids, to discover their future husbands.

Etymologies

Sorry, no etymologies found.

Examples

  • "Cyniver" has been borrowed from Wales, and the "dumb-cake" from the Hebrides.

    The Book of Hallowe'en

  • Instructions for making dumb-cake, to cut which reveals a lover: "Any number of young females shall take a handful of wheaten flour --" That was no use; there were too many females as it was!

    The Voice

  • Several of them sowed hemp-seed to be reaped by their true lovers; and they even ventured upon the solemn and fearful preparation of the dumb-cake.

    Bracebridge Hall, or The Humorists

  • Several of them sowed hemp-seed, to be reaped by their true lovers; and they even ventured upon the solemn and fearful preparation of the dumb-cake.

    Bracebridge Hall

  • Instructions for making dumb-cake, to cut which reveals a lover: "ANY

    The Voice

Comments

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  • A happy Saint Mark’s Day to all. Last night was the Eve of Saint Mark’s and it has some odd traditions associated. The business of maids discovering their future husbands by baiting them with dumb-cakes is not as strong a theme as that of the precocious ghosts of those who will die this year visiting the church. Keats began (and wisely abandoned) a poem on the subject. It might be the worst verse he ever wrote. I have a hunch that his repetition of the line “twice holy was the sabbath bell” is a sign that he intended to treat both superstitions. I can recommend the extant fragment as an encouragement to aspiring poets.

    Methinks the churches must have been very crowded on Saint Mark’s Eve with feverish maidens fingering their dough and apprentice ghosts just learning their trade. I wonder why any sensible swain would make an appearance just for the sake of a bit of cake.

    On Saint Mark's eve maidens dread
    To speak and meet those soon dead,
    But for silence' sake
    And one dumb-cake
    They'll buy a glimpse of who they'll wed.

    The eve of Saint Mark and all are mute
    It's silence that plucks this night's fruit.
    Wordless maids bake
    The magic dumb-cake
    And gossip by means of intestinal toot.

    April 25, 2014