I love a good craft fair. I really love a good craft fair with a homemade baking table. Some friends and I attended a craft fair on the weekend and lucky for me there was a bake table. I spotted a favourite treat of mine - date squares - or what Manitobans refer to as matrimonial cake. I first heard the term matrimonial cake about 3.5 years ago just after I moved to Manitoba and it has always puzzled me. Is it a dessert that is served at weddings in Manitoba? Should I be making this for my husband? Do singles make it in hopes of attracting a mate?
I've asked around, and nobody really seems to know as date squares have just always been called matrimonial cake in Manitoba. Some Manitobans even find it funny that I think it is strange to call it matrimonial cake.
I am a bit of a geek so I decided to do some research. My initial hunch was that it was named matrimonial cake as it was originally served at weddings. In the east coast where I am from, besides having a regular wedding cake, it is an old tradition to serve fruitcake at weddings too and it is referred to as "groom's cake", so I thought matrimonial cake would be similar. My research did not produce a definitive answer. It appears to be a western Canadian thing to refer to date squares as matrimonial cake. Some feel it is called matrimonial cake because of the two separate layers brought together by dates which symbolizes two people courting and solidifying the relationship in marriage. Others feel that the smooth and rough textures of the date squares represent the easy and difficult times of a marriage. Some believe that it was individually wrapped, handed out at weddings, and then single gals would place it under their pillow and dream about their future husband.
No matter what the history or what you call them, they sure are delicious. My package of matrimonial cake from the bake sale are almost gone, and they sure are tasty!