Do you ever stop and wonder where our wedding traditions and rituals come from? Why does the groom carry the bride over the threshold of their new home together? Why do we throw rice? What are the meanings behind the colors in a wedding? Ancient traditions have become ingrained enough in our society that they are practically unseen. It’s time to unearth the reasons behind our wedding rituals in the United States.
It is said that the bridal shower originated in a village long ago. A poor miller’s daughter wanted to marry, but her father disapproved of the marriage and would not pay for her dowry. Friends of the daughter were moved by her cause and “showered” her with gifts, enough to make a fine dowry. The daughter was married soon after. The tradition is carried on today in parties thrown in the bride’s honor. Even though there is no need for a dowry anymore, guests still come bearing gifts. In this way, they give the couple the necessities to start a life together.
“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” Have you heard this rhyme? Have you heeded its words? Many brides still carry or wear these objects as they walk down the aisle, though the reasons behind the items may not be known to them. These items are bestowed upon the bride as talismans, attaching good qualities to the bride as she enters into marriage. “Something old” represents wisdom: a quality young brides don’t yet own. It also symbolizes the bride’s family of origin, which she is now leaving, but taking along symbolically and in her heart. “Something new” stands for the new family she is entering into with this marriage. It originally symbolized an alliance between two households. “Something borrowed” is gifted upon the bride by a happily married woman, hoping for the happy energy to rub off on the woman. “Something blue” has its origins in ancient Rome. Virgins wore blue to denote love, fidelity, and constancy: fine qualities for any marriage. It is also associated with Christianity’s Virgin Mary.
He sweeps you off your feet when you fall in love, holding you close until he carries you across the threshold after you have been married. This tradition has its roots in many old superstitious traditions warding off evil spirits. They cannot enter with the bride if she does not step foot over the threshold herself. It came to symbolize modesty in an age when a certain hesitancy about consummating the marriage was fashionable. Now it symbolizes a new start for the young couple.
Queen Victoria changed wedding fashion when she chose to wear a white dress instead of the traditional royal silver gown at her wedding, and it became a trend that has continued to this day. Before then, women simply wore their best gowns as wedding dresses. White symbolizes virginity and purity, and also has its roots in traditions used to ward off evil.
The ancient custom of breaking sweet bread over the bride’s head to imbue her with fertility led us to our custom of eating sweet cake together at a wedding. Sharing the cake is another symbol of fertility, as well as longevity. It also symbolizes the union of bride and groom and touches upon the tradition of holy communion, symbolizing consuming the body of your beloved.
A kiss has commonly been used to seal the contract of marriage. It was also seen as a way for the bridal couple to join together in spirit, as the mouth was an entrance to the soul.
A wedding is a lovely time to carry on family and cultural traditions. Celebrate the rituals you love in your wedding. You’ll honor your new family’s creation in the years to come by creating rituals and traditions only you share.
Alex Lemone is a family and wedding writer. For more wedding decorating ideas and wedding ideas go to Wedding Ideas Etc. Note: You may reprint this article on your website, newsletter, or blog as long as the resource box remains in tact and hyperlinks stay active and dofollow.