There’s a heck of a lot of birthing traditions out there. And with a planet full of billions of people, it isn’t really a surprise that some will seem a bit more bizarre to one part of the world than another: some parents spit on their babies to protect them from the Evil Eye; others christen them with their saved-up wedding cake. Culture just got the heads up on pretty much the best tradition ever: groaning cheese.
Yep—groaning cheese. Groaning cheese is an old English tradition that involves hollowing out a hole in a big wheel of cheese and then passing the baby through the remaining cheese-ring on the day of his or her christening. It’s meant to symbolize the birth of the baby—“groaning” being sounds made, ahem, during childbirth—and blesses the child with good luck and fortune. The cheese itself doesn’t go to waste (don’t worry): it’s passed around to family and friends to eat to the newborn’s health.
Of course, these days people don’t really have a spare groaning cheese lying around. But the owners of Yorkshire cheese shop The Courtyard Dairy, Andy and Kathy Swinscoe, are bringing it back. Longtime cheesemongers and newtime parents, the pair rediscovered the ritual while searching for ancient cheese recipes.
“It’s true that both of us love a bit of British eccentricity,” said Andy, “So seeing our newborn into the world through the middle of a cheese seemed particularly fitting for the son of dedicated cheesemongers!” According to the parents, baby Walter even seemed to have an enjoyable time, a good omen for a child who will be surrounded by cheese for the rest of childhood and adolescence.
Now all that’s left is for the next celebrity baby to have his or her own #GroaningCheese, and we’ll have a trend on our hands for sure!