Andy & Kathy Recreate Age-old ‘Passing a Baby through Cheese’ Tradition

Groaning CheeseThe Courtyard Dairy, has re-enacted an age-old tradition of passing a newborn baby through a wheel of cheese. Andy and his wife Kathy (owner’s of Settle’s award-winning cheesemonger) found out about the interesting tradition whilst they were researching ancient cheese recipes. Listed as a ‘cheese curiosity’ the antique book they were perusing showed that in the 1800s and earlier it was not unusual for a husband to supply a whole cheese at the time of his wife’s delivery, and for the cheese to have its centre removed in order to allow the newly-born baby to be ‘passed through’ a ‘ring of cheese’ when Christened. Called ‘groaning cheese’ because of the noise a woman emits when giving birth, chunks of the groaning cheese were cut from the middle when the baby was born, and given to everyone present. This left a ‘cheese ring’ through which the newborn could be passed when Christened, ensuring good luck for the rest of his or her life.

groaning cheese ritualAndy and Kathy, who’ve worked in the cheese industry for many years in the UK and France, coincidentally were lucky enough to become the parents of baby Walter on 22nd March this year. This was that was too good an opportunity to miss, they decided, and so the idea was born to recreate the tradition of passing the baby through a ring of cheese. “When I first told Kathy that I thought it was a good idea to re-enact the tradition, I expected her to disagree in no uncertain terms!” said Andy, “But instead she warmed to the idea. It’s true that both of us love a bit of British eccentricity, so seeing our newborn into the world through the middle of a cheese seemed particularly fitting for the son of dedicated cheesemongers!”

They were helped in the venture by the makers of traditional farmhouse Cheddar, Hafod, who, when hearing about the plan, immediately sent Andy and Kathy a whole Hafod cheese, with an encouragement to give it a go. And, as Andy said, “Our newborn baby Walter even seemed to enjoy the experience!”

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