Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Wedding Traditions Worth Keeping

Normally, I’m not one for superstition, especially when associated with weddings. I don’t believe a woman must wear white, nor do I believe that a couple should refrain from seeing each other on the big day. But being of an inquisitive nature, I started to wonder where some of the more popular traditions came from, began to do a little digging, and found a few time honored traditions that are worth the time and effort. Just in case…

  • Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue
We are all familiar with the wedding day ritual and it’s a classic cinematic moment from every wedding movie ever made. But do we really know why we do it? Well, traditionally the “something old” is carried by the bride to symbolize her old life and family that she has come from, and on the flip side “something new” is used to symbolize the new life the bride will be entering into. The something borrowed is the part of this equation that often gets confused, as the item that is borrowed should come from a happily married woman. The idea is that she will impart some of her happiness onto the new union about to take place. And finally something blue is carried as a symbol of modesty and fidelity. The roots of the color come from the purity of the Virgin Mary, who is often depicted wearing blue in religious imagery.

  • Placement of the ring
There are two schools of thought concerning the traditional placement of a wedding ring. My favorite comes from ancient Egypt, where they believed there was a vein in a person third finger on their left hand that ran directly to their heart, they called it the vein of love. The second idea comes from the later Anglo-Saxon ceremony where the groom would place the ring on the brides hand three different times, symbolizing the father, the son, and the Holy Ghost. The third finger would be the last, and therefore where the ring would stay. The engagement ring, given as a symbol of matrimonial intent and commitment is worn on the same finger.

  • Share a slice of cake
The sharing of the first slice of wedding cake is tradition, and one of the most highly photographed moments of the day. But it is really meant to be a symbol of good wishes for the couple’s new life together. Ancient Romans believed that the wheat used in the cake was a symbol of fertility and prosperity, while the sugar was meant to ensure the sweetness of the union. So try to remember to get some in your spouse’s mouth when you’re shoving it in his face.

  • Showered in rice
Throwing rice as a couple exits the ceremony has evolved over the years, with trendier or more eco-friendly version observed today. But rice has always been seen as a life giving seed and showering a couple during their exit is meant to ensure that their new union be fruitful. Fortunately, the same thing can be said about birdseed, so you can still enjoy the symbolism without killing any pigeons.

  • Keeping old demons at bay
Tying cans to the back of the getaway car is associated with the idea that loud noises chase away the demons that try to follow the newly married couple as they exit their ceremony. The tradition of honking horns at that moment also follows the same line of reasoning.

Speaking of demons, it was once believed that the demons from the bride’s old life would try to follow into the new couple’s home. The act of carrying her over the threshold was believed to prevent them from entering. Speaking with all familial affection possible, my fiancĂ© had better start lifting weights now because this is one place where, better safe than sorry, applies.

  • And finally the question that originally sparked my research; Tying the knot?
There are three different instances where the act of tying a knot is incorporated into a wedding ceremony. In ancient Rome, brides would dress for their wedding in a girdle tied with a knot, and the act of untying it went to the groom. In Carthage the bride and groom’s thumbs were tied together with a leather strap to symbolize the bond that had been formed. And in India, the groom would tie a ribbon around the bride’s neck to solidify the marriage as legal and binding. Consequently, the wedding ceremony has now universally become known as tying the knot.

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