I had an interesting conversation a couple of weeks ago on one of my bridal makeup trials, and the bride-to-be was telling me how her colleague had been saying once they are back from honeymoon the husband-to-be must carry her over the threshold of their home, for good luck… I was thinking about it, and being the geek that I am, I had to Google it, why do we do that? Let me tell you – I probably shouldn’t have…
However, it did bring to light that the minute a couple gets engaged they are exposed to a wedding traditions galore, and this bride-to-be in particular had done her research on these traditions.
BEING CARRIED OVER THE THRESHOLD OF YOUR MARITAL HOME
Aww, look at those smiley newlyweds! Isn’t it adorable that he’s carrying her over the threshold? Actually, not really when you consider that it originates from a time when weddings sometimes followed kidnappings. Wonderful! Carrying the bride over the threshold was symbolic of the groom stealing away his bride, whisking her away from her family and into a new life with him. Also, in medieval times, carrying a bride into her new home prevented her from seeming “too enthusiastic about losing her virginity”. I really could not make that up if I tried.
THROWING OF THE GARTER
This always makes me laugh, especially since the last few weddings I went to it was just cringe-worthy watching. Turns out, this practice originates from all sorts of creepy. Apparently, the tradition is derived from a practice in medival Engalnd and France called “fingering the stocking” again, I am not making this stuff up. Guest’s would actually go into the wedding chamber and check the brides stocking’s for a sign that the marriage had been consummated. And in France, guests would run at the bride and snag a piece of her dress, which was considered to be a piece of good luck.
CARRYING A BOUQUET OF FLOWERS
Back in the 15th century, most people got married in the Northern Hemisphere in the month of June, because they took their yearly baths in May and didn’t smell too bad a mere month later – the time it took back then to plan a wedding… however to be on the safe side, brides would carry flowers to mask any body odour.
Flowers have also been traced back to being a Pagan ritual, like pretty much everything involving weddings as they represent nature, the maiden and fertility.
CHOOSING A BEST MAN
Having a maid of honour and best man is just a nice way to honour someone special in your social circle, right? Wrong. The tradition of a groom choosing his best man began with the Germanic tribes. Apparently, the best man was employed to help carry off an unwilling bride-elect, if necessary. The best man’s position beside the groom during the ceremony was meant to make him a shield between the groom and angry members of the brides family. This is hilarious, especially since this is sometimes the case to this day.
WEARING A VEIL
We now all think of it as bridal fashion, but the veil wasn’t always simply about style. Way back, brides were veiled because they were supposed to be hidden from evil spirits, or mosquitoes. In some religious traditions, it was also a symbol of modesty and unapproachability. In certain cultures the father of the bride could switch the daugher being married (to marry off the unattractive one) and the groom wouldn’t know until he said his vows. Sneaky
BREAKING THE GLASS
A tradition in Jewish weddings, the symbolism is actually bittersweet: the chief connotation is that the breaking of the glass serves as a reminder of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the most holy place in all of Jewish history, while a secondary one is that it’s supposed to remind the couple of the fragility of the relationship and the need to preserve it. Mazel tov indeed.
Although, you hear all about four-tier buttercream wedding cakes on the Cake Boss, all the time they are supposed to symbolize the foundation of your relationship and good fortune. As you cut into the bottom tier together, that wasn’t always the case.
This tradition’s predecessor involved the breaking of bread over the brides head. Doing this was believed to be a fertility ritual. A groom would eat barley bread, then hold up the remainder of the loaf above his brides head and shower her with the crumbs. I’d rather be showered with R200 notes. Guests would scramble for the crumbs, because they were supposed to be good luck…. What is it with everyone and luck? Goodness.
There are loads of weird and wonderful rituals we seem to carry forward, without knowing the true meaning behind them – or do you, and I’m the only one who wasn’t clued up on this?
Let me know if any surprised you!