Marriage Customs

Marriage Customs and some of the Superstitions

June is the month usually associated with weddings, so here are some light hearted renditions of a few of the customs and superstitions for those curious some.

For starters, the word “wed” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon and means “Pledge,” appropriately so, since the ceremony consists of two parties (bride and groom’s) pledging or promising to love and abide by certain rules, to ensure the desirable happy outcome.  This solemn occasion over the years has also given rise to some symbolic acts to ensure good fortune and to avert any ill omens; these undertakings had their origins from conventional superstitions.

Were you aware that the most favoured month for the marriage is June? Do you know the reason why?

Believe it or not, its determination comes from Roman mythology. Back then, June was the month dedicated to Juno, the wife of Jupiter, their ultimate deity. Because of her association, she was regarded as the patroness of marriage, and also, the protector of women. On the other hand, the month of May is considered an unlucky marriage month.

One can marry any day of the week, though Sunday and Monday are not popular.  The preference is oftentimes given to Wednesday or Saturday.  Friday has evil associations for Christians (because Jesus was crucified on that day and also that was the day Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit). On the other hand, to the Norsemen Friday was the luckiest day of the week. It is interesting to note that the Ancient Romans had dedicated Friday to the Venus, the goddess of beauty and worldly love.

To ensure wedded bliss, in Victorian times the bridal trousseau (excluding the gown), was sewn by the bride herself. The bridal gown was usually made by her close friends. As they completed this requisite, they would sew a strand or few hairs from their head into the hem or some of the folds to hasten the time of their own matrimony.

The colour most preferred for the dress is white (in Canada, Europe, America etc.) as it is the emblem of purity, candour and simplicity. The veil (made to cover the bride’s face completely during the ceremony) when worn by the ancient Roman and Greek brides, was yellow.  Red was the preferred choice in Old China, as the symbol of life, the blood is red.  Blue is considered a fortunate colour for lovers as the rhythm goes: “Something old, something new, something borrowed something blue.”

Green unfortunately is associated with ill luck, so it should be avoided.  The wearing of “Orange-blossom” was introduced from France in 1820, as the white blossoms stood for innocence, while the Cherry tree represents fruitfulness.  Similarly “the Chaplet of flowers” worn on head and the bouquet the brides hold, symbolize abundance and prosperity.

On the wedding day if the bride awakens to the sounds of singing birds, this bodes that she and her husband will never quarrel and furthermore, remain forever constant to one another. To spot a spider on the bridal gown or veil denotes wealth and plenty.

Before leaving the house the bride must be careful to add something to her apparel, such as gloves, for good luck.

The Bride must avoid shedding tears before the wedding as it not an auspicious thing to do. On the way to be married, it is fortunate if the bride sees a toad, dove or spider. Bride must enter the church with a right foot first and try not to stumble, for it is considered an omen of evil.

Surprise, surprise! The bridegroom is not constrained with as many superstitions.  The important thing for him to remember is that, he must not see his bride in her bridal clothes on the day of the wedding before  that is, she meets him at the alter or before the ceremony is about to take  place. Therefore, he must keep his back turned while she is coming up the aisle. Also, once he has set out for the church, the bridegroom must not turn back; if he has forgotten something, another person, such as the best man  must be sent to fetch it. Take care not to drop the ring, and place it as far down as possible when putting it on bride’s finger.  A failure of this would portend of an early parting.  If the bride has to assist him in putting on the ring, it will mean that it will be she who rules the home.

His groomsmen are from the times when marriage was made by capture, and he needed this sturdy bunch to assist him in seizing the maiden from the midst of her people.

A promise is made by the ring, the plain gold or platinum circlet, which symbolizes their never-ending love and devotion. The third finger of the left hand on which the ring is placed, is believed to have a delicate nerve in it that directly links it to the heart.

After the ceremony is completed the bride and bridegroom are showered by the confetti or rice. The throwing of rice was derived from an Indian custom connected with throwing of wheat ears which was once also practiced in good Old England. It’s another symbolic act meant to ensure fruitfulness and plenty for the wedded couple.  Confetti is preferred over rice because it’s less dangerous to the face and eyes, and also does not harm the pigeons who oftentimes dine on it.

After the ceremony, the bridesmaids compete to catch the bouquet thrown by the bride, for it means that they will be next.  Bride usually throws the bouquet over her head as she stands with her back to the gathered bunch.

The wedding cake has its origins in the days of Old Roman Empire. Back then the cake however was made of flour, water and salt, a far cry from the elaborately ornamented, several layered icing confection of today. The couple partakes of it, for the act ensures that they would never know want.   You must eat a slice of wedding-cake; to refuse it means you do not wish the bride and groom well. There is another superstition that the health of the bride must be drunk in sprits such as champagne, wine, beer etc. To drink instead, a soft- drink or water will bring the newlyweds an ill fortune and troubles.

At the end of the celebrations sometimes when the bride is leaving to prepare for the honeymoon, she’ll throw one of her shoes over her left shoulder, the one that catches it will be the next to marry.

The term “honeymoon” comes from  the time when for thirty days they celebrated  the wedding, with bridegroom and bride taking part in the revelry,  by drinking mead- a beverage made from honey.

Nearing the end of the festivities, and the bride withdraws to have a change of clothes. She must take care to remove all the pins which were used in her marriage gown or veil and give it to a friend to be thrown away.  Should any of it is re-used on her going- away attire, it would bring ill luck and the honeymoon will not be so happy.

The throwing of the old shoes at the newlyweds, or attaching one to the car in which they drive away, had its origins from Anglo-Saxon times, when the father of the bride gave her shoe to the bridegroom, who touched her with it on the head as the symbol of his authority.  Some claim the throwing of a shoe is from the times when marriage was done by force and the bride was abducted.

The newlyweds should take care not to break anything during their honeymoon. She may now wear green, for at this point it will bring her good fortune and abundant love.

Upon returning home, there’s an ancient custom where boiling water is poured over the threshold before the bride enters the house. A Scottish custom dictates that the bride should be carried across the threshold of her new home while her new mother-in-law breaks shortbread over her head.  In some countries it is considered lucky of the new bride placed dough on the door of her house, symbolizing that in future she’s to be the housekeeper. In Ireland a cake made of oats is broken over the wife’s head in order to ensure that the married couple will never know want.

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