It has to be confusing to some to try and understand where certain phrases came from. Heck, I often wonder about the origins of some sayings.
When you’re told that some task is no “cakewalk,” you’ve been warned of the huge difficulty or obstacle that you might face engaging in it. The origin of this phrase is not as cheerful as it sounds. A cakewalk was a dance performed by slaves on plantations in the southern United States. The dance was done in mockery of their white owners. The owners, who knew nothing about the dance’s backstory, took delight in it and had slaves perform it for them during weekend contests while they served as the judges. The winner is rewarded with a piece of cake, and the phrase “piece of cake” also comes from the dance.
After slavery came to an end, cakewalks became popular for another wrong reason. It was performed by white actors who painted their faces black and portrayed the slaves as people attempting to sincerely emulate white culture but failing hilariously. It eventually became the foundation of famous ragtime songs. Over time, the phrase remained while the gruesome story behind it faded. If any phrase origin takes the cake for being disturbing, this one does.
I have to admit that when I researched this at Listverse, I had no idea where some of these phrases came from. Sometimes the origin of certain catchphrases and words should best be left alone!
Let's take a chance and have coffee out on the patio this morning...OK?