TR Robertson–COVID-19 has altered, changed and derailed a number of social interactions everywhere in the world. From dining out to attending various entertainment venues to attending church and other gatherings, the social distancing restrictions has left people attempting to try and understand how to enjoy what was once an accepted part of the life we once knew. One of the social customs that has also been severely restricted is marriages. Couples have had to make a few changes to plans they had been working on for months. Size of wedding attendees is limited. The wedding reception has also been affected as well. Many couples are postponing their weddings in hopes things will be better later in the year or next year.
Even with weddings in a bit of a “conundrum”, the customs and traditions surrounding wedding are still around this special day. Many of the customs and tradition are based on the culture or religion the bride and groom come from or the religion they practice. Many of the customs and traditions have been passed down from family to family. Many of the customs and traditions are simply good luck and good fortune practices the couple believes will lead to a successful and happy marriage.
Historically, the first recorded evidence of marriages dates to 2,350 B.C. in Mesopotamia. Many of the customs and traditions for the married couple dates back this far as well. Listed below are a number of customs and traditions from all over the world and how they came to be a part of many couples wedding day.
Wedding Customs and Traditions
- The index finger used to be the rings finger in third century Greece. Over time they moved the ring to the third finger which they believed was connected to the heart via the “vein of love”.
- In India, the ring finger for the wedding was the thumb.
- In ancient times the wedding ring was thought to protect the bride from evil spirits.
- In early Rome, a gold band came to symbolize everlasting love and commitment in marriage, often carved with two clasped hands.
- When translated, the Anglo-Saxon word “wedd” means the groom would vow to marry a woman, also it meant the bride’s price to be paid by the groom to the bride’s father.
- Bridal showers were meant to strengthen the ties between the bride and her friends, providing moral support and helping her prepare for the rigors of married life. Gift showers date to the 1890’s.
- During the height of the Greek civilization in Sparta, Spartan soldiers were the first to hold stag parties for the groom. In those days, the groom held the party for his friends.
- The wedding dress dates to 1499 and Anne of Brittany. Prior to this time the bride would simply wear her best dress. The white wedding dress symbolizes purity.
- The tradition of the bride carrying something old, new, borrowed and blue comes from England. Something old signifies continuity, something new signifies optimism in the future, something borrowed signifies future happiness and something blue signifies modesty, fidelity and love.
- Another custom is the bride wearing a coin in her shoe for prosperity.
- In the first century BC in Rome, the wedding cake was thrown at the bride or broken over the brides’ head as a fertility symbol. Today this is shortened to couples playfully smearing a bit of the cake on one another’s face.
- The best man dates to the Germanic Goths of Northern Europe in 200 A.D. when the prospective groom would often capture a future bride from a neighboring village, and he would have his strongest friend accompany him to assist if needed.
- In parts of Europe in the 14th century, having a piece of the brides’ clothing was a sign of good luck. To prevent destroying the brides dress, the concept of catching something like a garter or the bouquet of flowers took the place of tearing at the brides’ dress. These items were tossed to unwed girls of marriageable age.
- There is an Irish tradition dating back to the fifth century called “Ladies Privilege” that says every four years, on Feb. 29th, women can ask men to marry them.
- In Medieval England, the wedding vows use to say, “to love, cherish and obey”, obey has since dropped from most vows.
- An ancient Celtic tradition is for the bride and groom having their hands tied together, called handfasting, which is said to inspire the phrase “tying the knot”. This also happened in Roman, Hindu and Egyptian weddings.
- In Finland, the bride used to go door to door with a pillowcase to receive wedding gifts accompanied by an older married man who represented long marriage.
- The English believe that a spider found in a wedding dress means good luck.
- In English tradition, Wednesday is considered the best day to marry, although Monday is for wealth and Tuesday for health.
- The groom carries the bride across the threshold to bravely protect her from evil spirits.
- According to English folklore, Saturday is the unluckiest day to get married.
- According to Hindu tradition, rain on your wedding day is considered good luck.
- For good luck, Egyptian women pinch the bride on her wedding day.
- Peas are thrown at Czech newlyweds instead of rice.
- The throwing of rice is a fertility symbol. Wasting of food today has led to throwing confetti.
- The ring symbolizes eternity.
- Diamonds set in gold or silver became popular among wealthy Venetians toward the end of the fifteenth century.
- A sapphire in a wedding ring symbolizes marital happiness.
- A pearl engagement ring is said to be bad luck because the pearl is shaped like a tear.
- One of the earliest engagement rings was given to Princess Mary, daughter of Henry VIII, she was two at the time.
- Snake rings dotted with ruby eyes were popular wedding bands in Victorian England.
- Aquamarine represents marital harmony and is said to ensure a long, happy marriage.
- In Asia, wearing robes with embroidered cranes symbolizes fidelity for the length of the marriage.
- Ancient Greeks and Romans thought a veil protected the bride from evil spirits.
- In Denmark, brides and grooms would sometimes cross-dress to confuse evil spirits.
- In Egypt, the bride’s family traditionally does all the cooking for a week after the wedding so the couple can relax.
- The bride stands to the groom’s left during a Christian ceremony, because in bygone days the groom needed his right hand free to fight off other suitors or any enemy.
- In Korea, brides where bright hues of red and yellow.
- The custom of tiered cakes emerged from a game where the bride and groom attempted to kiss over an ever-higher cake without knocking it over.
- Legend says single women will dream of their future husband if they sleep with a slice of the groom’s cake under their pillows.
- An old wives tale – If the younger of two sisters marries first, the older sister must dance barefoot at the wedding or risk never landing a husband.
- In Holland, a pine tree is planted outside the newlywed’s home as a symbol of fertility and luck.
- Ancient Romans studied pig entrails to determine the luckiest time to marry.
- Moroccan women take a milk bath to purify themselves before their wedding ceremony.
- Traditionally, in arranged marriages, the groom’s family would not allow him to see his bride until the wedding day. This is because if he did not like her, he might refuse to marry her. Veils were used to conceal what she looked like.
- Cans tied to a car after the wedding comes from the French custom of a “charivan”, where neighbors would walk down the street banging pots and pans to scare away evil spirts from the wedding.
- The flower girl comes from the Romans where young virgins would carry sheaths of wheat before the bride to bring on well-being and good fortune.
- In ancient Rome, the purpose of having bridesmaids at a wedding was to protect the bride. The bridesmaids would wear the same dress as the bride to confuse evil spirits.
- The tradition of a honeymoon dates to the 5th century when cultures used a calendar based on moon cycles. Once married, the couple would drink mead, an alcoholic beverage made with honey. This tradition would take place during their first moon of marriage – the honeymoon.
- Bridal bouquets were to drive away evil spirts, using bunches of herbs, garlic and grains.
- In Victorian times, a pageboy was responsible for carrying a bride’s train and a prayer book. The Victorians began to place the rings on pillows as a sign of their wealth for all to see.
- It was the best man’s responsibility to take the rings off the pillow to protect them from theft.
These are but a few of the many, many traditions and customs that can occur at weddings. Hopefully, when things get back to some sense of normalcy and couples can have the wedding they have always wanted, they can incorporate some of these ancient customs into their wedding festivities.
In the meantime – Be Safe Out There.