Also known as, Am I Accidentally A Pagan?
As a child, it was tradition in my house for the person cutting their birthday cake to ’scream out the devil’.
I had always thought that screaming out the devil was as ubiquitous as making a wish when you blew out the candles, or to take another cake superstition, putting a piece of wedding cake under your pillow to dream of the man you’re going to marry. But, several extremely odd looks as I trilled “don’t forget to scream out the devil!” over an uncut cake later, I learnt that this little ritual was probably more idiosyncratic than that.
So, apart from this obviously being a very good album name if I ever chose to start my own goth/indie band, what does ’screaming out the devil’ actually mean?
As I have no doubt yawned on about ad infinitum, I grew up in Oxford, which is a place so stiff with pagans that you’re lucky to get through a single day without being accosted by some willow-weaving, mandolin playing no-marks in a top hat and stripy socks.
So, there is a fairly strong chance that this whole devil-makes-work-for-idle-cake palaver is a yet another local piece of paganism. Like May Morning, or a preponderance for wicker.
Well, according to google – and frankly, unless I can find a book entitled ‘screaming out the Devil, and other cake-related superstitions’ I can’t think where better to start – there is such a thing as a ‘witch cake’. Witch cake, rather deliciously, is made with the urine of your victim as part of the whole ‘making them possessed’ thing.
But that’s bewitched piss. Not the devil.
Another theory is that by making a wish upon the candles, you are in fact tempting the devil in to your cake. Spurious I know, but, worth a shot.
Because, you know, if there isn’t some long-forgotten legend, superstition or myth behind our satanic screaming, then it actally just means that the parents of East Oxford thought that the devil lived in birthday cake. Or that their children were innately evil.
Idiots, or paranoid insanity. I don’t know which is worse.