“Even if one is not superstitious, no one challenges a wedding tradition, even if it stems from superstition, because everyone wants a marriage to succeed and who wants to tempt fate?”
I decided to share some of the traditions based upon superstition and let you decide which customs should be perpetuated and which ones can be terminated.
According to my research, the tradition of tying old shoes to the back of the couple’s car, stems from Tudor times when guests would throw shoes at the bride and groom, with great luck being bestowed on them if they or their carriage were hit! (I wonder if that reporter in Iraq meant to bestow luck upon President Bush when he threw the shoe?)
The rhyme, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue,” originated in Victorian times. “Something old” refers to the tradition of giving an old garter to the bride by a happily married woman. Then the new bride would also enjoy a happy marriage. “Something new” refers to something new worn by the bride so she looks to the future for health, happiness and success. “Something borrowed” is an opportunity for the bride’s family to give her something as a token of their love (it must be returned to ensure good luck). “Something blue” is thought lucky because the color blue represents fidelity and constancy. The custom began in ancient Israel where brides wore a blue ribbon in their hair to symbolize their fidelity.
The wedding cake was originally many little wheat cakes that were broken over the bride’s head to bestow good luck and fertility. Traditionally today, the newlyweds make the first cut of the modern sweet wedding cake to signify sharing their life together in sweetness. Every guest then eats at least a crumb to ensure good luck. Most important for single women, in order to dream about their future husbands, is the tradition of sleeping with a piece of cake under their pillows.
The giving of almond favors is connected with the motto: “A gift of five almonds represents health, wealth, long life, fertility and happiness.
Upon exiting the festivities or church, the guests throw confetti, rice, grains or nuts. Stemming from ancient fertility rites, the bride and groom receive a shower of life giving seeds. However, in some European countries, eggs are thrown.
Until the twentieth century brides hardly ever bought a special wedding dress. They usually wore their best outfit. The color green was always avoided, as it was thought to be unlucky. To say a girl “had a green gown” also implied that she was of loose morals, because her dress would be grass-stained due to rolling around in the fields! Queen Victoria, who broke the tradition of royals marrying in silver, made white dresses popular. Symbolizing purity and virginity, white was also thought to ward off evil spirits. Other traditions are that the bride should never make her own dress, that the final stitch should not be completed until she is departing for the church, and that she should never try on the entire outfit before the day. A bride should not “count her chickens.” For the same reason, a Bride should never practice signing her new name until it is legally hers. The tradition of Bridesmaids stems from the custom of surrounding the Bride with other richly dressed women, in order to confuse evil spirits.
“Married in White, you have chosen right
Married in Grey, you will go far away,
Married in Black, you will wish yourself back,
Married in Red, you will wish yourself dead,
Married in Green, ashamed to be seen,
Married in Blue, you will always be true,
Married in Pearl, you will live in a whirl,
Married in Yellow, ashamed of your fellow,
Married in Brown, you will live in the town,
Married in Pink, your spirit will sink.”
What wedding traditions do you think we should perpetuate? Do you have any anecdotes about traditions you observe?