Wedding Day Traditions
Various traditions have played a huge part in weddings across the globe for hundreds of years. In the lead up to the big day we often have conversations with our brides who are frantically searching for something to ‘borrow’ from loved ones, preferably ‘blue’ and ‘old’. It’s also the case that most couples prefer not to see each other before walking down the aisle plus we find that the romantics amongst us still propose on one knee too. These are great examples of wedding traditions with which you are probably familiar. But do you actually know why they started? Here’s a few insights ….
So, first up let’s consider the ‘dropping to a knee to propose’ tradition (or in my case drag my then boyfriend Rob into a jewellery shop, semi push him over and grin expectantly). Well, in the middle ages men would bend down in front of women they adored. What’s more, in religion, kneeling in-front of someone is a sign or respect and loyalty.
The tradition of not seeing each other dates back to the days of arranged marriages out of fear that the couple would not go through with the arranged ceremony if they didn’t like the ‘look’ of each other. The veil also helped mask the bride for the same reason. The reason as to why brides are ‘given away’ stems from when women were literally handed over often in exchange for money or a dowry. Several wedding traditions relate to the warding off of evil spirits including carrying the bride over the threshold. This was thought to protect her from evil spirits that may be lurking in the new home, particularly since the soles of her feet were known to be at the greatest risk of evil! My husband Rob would argue that in some cases I would not suffer this since there would be no evil spirits brave enough to venture near my slipper smelling tootsies! The cheek!
In terms of ‘bouquet carrying’ - during the Middle Ages, strong-smelling herbs and spices were plants of choice and (again) were thought to deter spirits! In Ancient Rome, brides carried and wore flower garlands, believing that flowers signified new beginnings and hope of fertility. Plus sweet smelling flowers helped mask the smell of body odour!
Following this research, it seems we British have got away lightly on the wedding tradition front! In parts of Germany (after the ceremony) the couple use a two-person cross-cut handsaw to cut a large log in half! It symbolises partnership and working together – Not sure why but I love this!
Over in Canada unmarried siblings of the bride and groom perform a silly sock dance at the reception whilst wearing ridiculous, brightly-coloured, knitted socks! Doesn’t this sound like brilliant and fun idea? Guests can show their approval of the dancing display by tossing money at the siblings, which is then generously donated to the happy couple - talk about a win win!
Finally, in rural Scotland a few days before the wedding, there is the unfortunate ‘blackening of the bride ceremony’, where the bride (or sometimes couple) are captured and covered in sticky disgusting things like beer, treacle, old smelly fish, feathers and flour and then parade through the streets for all to see! The point is, if they can get through this trial together, marital life will be a breeze!!! Thoughts of the Maldon Mud race (plus a few feathers) spring to mind!
Any willing and engaged couples feel like volunteering? You never know, it could be the start of our new local wedding tradition for us Essex folk.