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At a wedding a friend of mine attended in Japan, she saw the bride and groom feed each other a slice of cake. He was told by the MC that it was "first bite" (ファーストバイト), a commitment the bride and groom make to each other. I think the commitment is that the man provides for the woman, and that the woman cooks for the man.

Is "first bite" a genuine English term for this tradition, or is it wasei-eigo (English made in Japan)? Or, worse yet, not a real tradition!

I looked in onelook.com, but the only hit it got was for an album.

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    The only first bite I know of in American English is George Hamilton's 1979 vampire movie Love at First Bite. I'm sure that the term in Japan is Japanese-English, just as gasoline stand (*ガソリンスタンド) {pronounced: ga-so-lean-stand-o} is [It's supposed to mean gas station]. – user264 Feb 4 '13 at 10:27
  • @BillFranke When should the term wasei-eigo be used, and when should "Japanese-English" be used? – Andrew Grimm Feb 5 '13 at 21:50
  • I've never heard the term wasei-eigo (和製: Made in Japan? これを聞いたのは初めてです), so I can't comment on that. In general, though, I'd say that using Japanese terms is fine when speaking or writing to those you know understand Japanese, but not advisable when speaking or writing to others. My Dutch friend & I often code switch because we know what languages and what expressions we understand in Japanese (he's a translator), French, English, & German. Sometimes uses Dutch, but that's very difficult for me. I don't use Chinese with him. I'd always use "Japanese-English" when speaking & writing English. – user264 Feb 6 '13 at 0:46
  • Karawai, a wedding bread, likely relative to a Proto-Slavic stem "*korva" ("cow", meaning "bride"). The differences to an original stem suggest that the term has appeared before fall of the "open syllable law" in 11-12th centuries. I'm afraid that first bite (image) is an ancient European tradition. – bytebuster Feb 7 '13 at 19:07
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    @bytebuster ell.stackexchange.com/questions/1195/… – Andrew Grimm Feb 7 '13 at 22:29
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I haven't heard of it being called "first bite" as a phrase in itself, but it is done.

The bride and groom feeding each other a piece of cake is certainly done at weddings (in Australia, England and the USA). It is supposed to symbolise the new life that the couple have committed to each other. This is prefaced by the bride and groom cutting the cake together. Traditionally, the wedding cake was only cut by the bride - but now it is common to see the bride and groom cutting the cake together.

You may also see the "first bite" replaced by the couple smashing the cake into each others faces, but it is not all that common.

I've found a reference to "first bite" used as "sharing the first bite" here.

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  • You never forget your first bite. ;) – kiamlaluno Feb 4 '13 at 13:51
  • "First bite" is definitely a USA tradition as well and is generally referred to with that "sharing the first bite" but not always. Fortunately, the smashing cake tradition has really dropped out of favor but it had a regrettable degree of popularity for a while in the US. – user416 Feb 7 '13 at 0:23
  • @kiamlaluno's "first bite" is a snowclone of the English phrase Love at first sight. – Andrew Grimm Feb 7 '13 at 22:28
  • @GlenH7 they ought to have a smashing cake tradition for divorces! – Andrew Grimm Feb 7 '13 at 22:29
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    @AndrewGrimm - the tradition for divorce seems to be breaking plates and anything else fragile that may have been given as wedding gifts... – user416 Feb 7 '13 at 22:45

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