Top 10 Wedding Traditions That Started From Ancient Myth
Marriage is an ancient tradition based on the exchange of goods, land, money and the promise of family alliances in times of war. Eventually, brides began to demand more from the transaction, and the notion of a romantic union was born. As old as marriage is, you can bet that many of its traditions are steeped in religious or even pagan superstition. In fact, the customs we’re so used to seeing in modern weddings have their origins as far back as Roman times. Here are the top 10 wedding traditions that started from myth and superstition:
#1: Not Seeing the Bride Before She Walks Down the Aisle
These days, the worst that can happen from seeing your bride before the wedding is that she’ll break down in tears. Brides spend so much money on their dress, shoes, hair, and makeup that they want the first moment you see them to be at the bottom of the aisle and not in a dressing room. However, back in the time where men and women had very little choice in who they were to marry, not seeing each other until the very last minute ensured that neither of them had a chance to run away after seeing each other’s faces.
#2: Something Borrowed, Something Blue
These days, the rhyme “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a sixpence in her shoe,” are guidelines. But in the days where bad luck and evil spirits were lurking around every corner, the bride needed as much help as she could get. Something old symbolized continuity, something new was a good luck charm for the future, something borrowed from a person in a prosperous marriage was supposed to bring you their luck, and the colour blue represented love and happiness. The sixpence part has largely fallen out of fashion, but it was meant to bring the bride prosperity and fortune.
#3: No Pearls Allowed
While pearls are beautiful every other day, they are simply not allowed at weddings. The thought behind this is that pearls are harbingers of sadness and tears. It may also have something to do with the fact that pearls make for fragile wedding rings, as they can easily fall out and are prone to scratching. If that’s not a bad omen, we don’t know what is.
#4: Crying on Your Wedding Day
Considering how many traditions involve pain, humiliation, and even kidnapping of the bride, it does make us wonder why so many women want to tie the knot. But apparently crying on your wedding day brings the bride good fortune as it symbolizes the end of her unhappiness and the last time she will ever shed tears.
#5: Carrying the Bride Over the Threshold
Even before the existence of organized religion, evil spirits have always roamed the earth cursing our happiness and generally making our lives miserable. It’s no surprise that demons and goblins would target a blushing bride on her wedding. Apparently grooms carried their new wives over the threshold into their new home in order to rid her of any spirits that may have hitched a ride on her feet. Carrying her over the threshold into their nuptial home meant that evil spirits wouldn’t follow.
#6: The Wedding Cake
These days, the wedding cake comes in all shapes and sizes. Some couples even forego the cake entirely. However, the wedding cake has a long history. When it was first introduced in weddings, it more resembled dry and fruity loaves which were either tossed at the bride for good luck by her wedding guests or crumbled over her head by the groom. Over the centuries, cakes became tastier and more elaborate, which effectively stopped people from throwing their dessert at the bride.
#7: Tossing of the Garter
If you think this tradition is somewhat perverted and creepy—don’t forget, your family is watching!—just be happy you’re not living in the Middle Ages, where everyone you knew would escort you and your new spouse to the marriage bed to witness the consummation. As the bride was getting ready for bed, the guests would steal pieces of her clothing, i.e. rip them off her body, as anything worn by the bride was said to bring immense luck to the possessor. The modern tradition of garter tossing is a watered-down version of this voyeuristic practice.
#8: The Wedding Ring
Wedding ring traditions have come and gone over the centuries, but what seems to prevail is the location of the wedding ring on the bride’s fourth finger, which was thought to be the location of a vein that was directly attached to the heart. Before the Romans exchanged metal rings, the Ancient Egyptians fashioned rings from plants and reeds. Expensive diamonds and other precious gems eventually symbolized the bridegroom’s serious intentions, which gave the bride (and her father) some insurance.
#9: Wearing a Veil
If there’s one thing you’ve learned from this blog post, it’s that brides are targets for evil spirits, bad luck, and hexes. Maybe it’s a scorned suitor, a secret admirer, or a jealous bridesmaid cursing the union. Or maybe it’s the Devil’s minions trying to darken such an auspicious occasion. Whatever the case, brides had to be very careful before the exchange of vows because evil was always trying to ruin the party. The veil was worn to shield the bride from such pesky spirits. Alternatively, the veil also symbolizes her purity and virginity.
#10: Flowers Everywhere
Flowers carry their own mythology that transcend marriage ceremonies. Every flower, herb, and plant you can imagine carries an inherent power that has been recognized since the dawn of time. Not purely for decoration, floral crowns and bouquets used to be more savory, featuring garlic bulbs and medicinal and spiritual herbs, which brought the bride and groom good fortune and warded off evil. Every culture has its own wedding flower tradition, but all of them share a common theme: flowers are a gift from a nature and symbolize fertility, growth, and life itself.
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