One of the most important and traditional ceremonies in our lives. Ever wonder how some
of our wedding traditions got started? Here’s some:
The word wedding comes from the Anglo-Saxon wedd, meaning a pledge.
In olden days, a man "plighting his troth" meant entering a legal agreement, which is where we get the term "betrothal."
In many African tribes, a man cannot marry until he, his father, or uncles have paid a brideswealth in money, livestock or other valuables to the girl’s family.
The dowry system, in which a bride was expected to bring valuables to the marriage, was observed in many cultures. It was originally intended as compensation for the burden undertaken by the new groom of supporting a wife.
Bridal showers date back to the dowry system as a way for the bride to gain a dowry.
Arranged marriages are still customary in some cultures even today. The Hindus of India is one.
The tradition of wearing wedding rings on the third finger has two sources: one started back in ancient times when it was believed that the third finger had a nerve that ran straight to the heart; the second is metaphorical, while every other finger can be extended to its full length and straightness alone, the ring finger can only be fully extended in the company of an adjacent finger.
Before the late 18th century, diamonds were so rare and scarce, that only the very rich could afford to give them as engagement rings.
Wedding rings are made of gold because it was believed that it was the most pure of all metals and therefore symbolic of the union of marriage.
Most marriage still occur in the month of June. The tradition started with Roman brides because June is named after the Roman god Juno, the Goddess of Love and Marriage.
Amish weddings are permitted only after the harvest and normally take place during the week, not the weekend.
Something old, something new, something borrowed something blue:
Old as a guarantee that the love and affection she enjoyed before her marriage will endure,
New for success in her new life,
Borrowed as a symbol that friends may always be helpful when needed,
Blue to designate her loyalty and devotion to her groom.
Note: in England the above saying had one more line: ‘a sixpense in your shoe." Brides put money in their shoe as a sign of good fortune.
The tradition of the best man started to keep the groom from going back for anything once he started for the church or wedding ceremony. Turning around and going back for any reason was considered a very bad omen for the wedding. The best man was to prevent that from happening.
In several ancient societies where men would often gain a bride through kidnapping, the best man’s job was to assist the groom in grabbing the girl, then guarding the place of their first union so as not to be disturbed by the girl’s family coming to retrieve her.
In Switzerland a pine tree is planted at the home of the newly wed couple as a sign of fertility and good luck.
Groomsmen were basically henchmen. Originally made part of the wedding party by the groom in order to keep too many uninvited people from joining in the celebration and the wedding party getting big, rowdy and uncontrollable. Today, they are simply symbolic.
In Kenya, artist paint the hands and nails of a new bride. The paint stays on for one year to show the status of a newly married woman.
The small tissues that are often enclosed in wedding invitations started back in the old raised printing press days, when it was necessary to include small pieces of rice paper to keep the printing from smearing. With today’s modern printing methods the tissue is no longer needed, but they are include because of tradition.
The bridal veil predates the wedding dress by almost 2,000 years.
The color blue thought to be symbolic of virtue and innocence of a first love, has been associated with weddings much longer than white.
Before white wedding dresses became customary, the color of a dress was thought to be superstitious. Here is the color code:
Married in white, you have chosen alright
Married in green, ashamed to be seen
Married in blue, love ever true
Married in pink, it’s you he will always think
Married in grey, you will go far away
Married in red, you’ll wish yourself dead
Married in yellow, ashamed of your fellow
Married in black, you’ll wish yourself back
Traditional Chinese brides often wear red, which symbolizes joy and love. White denotes hope and is usually reserved for funerals.
The traditional wedding costume of a Navaho Indian bride is a dress woven in four colors, symbolic of the four directions of the compass.
The tradition of brides carrying flowers started centuries ago. At first the brides often carried stalks of wheat, corn or fruit to symbolize her bringing a fertile body to the union and a promise of an abundance of children.
The tradition of the bride throwing the bouquet started in France in 1300. The belief was that whomever caught the bouquet would be the next to marry.
In traditional Danish weddings two pieces of ribbon are tied during the ceremony as a symbol of the union of man and woman. This is where we got the phrase, "To tie the knot."
Over 40 different cultures around the world, including Navaho Indians face east for the ceremony, as east is believed to be the direction of the future.
In Christian ceremonies the bride stands on the grooms left. This was started when it may have been necessary for the groom to reach for his sword with his right hand in order to keep someone from riding up and stealing his bride during the wedding.
The wedding cake dates back to ancient Rome, when couples shared cakes of wheat flour with their guest as a symbol of their unity.
The first tiered wedding cake was made by a London baker
who duplicated the spires of a nearby church. The church name was
Back to Fun
Facts ¦ Back to Home Page