Saturday, July 21, 2012

The History of Wedding Customs.

My cousin the firefighter, Ray is marrying his sweetheart, Robin, a real estate agent, today. I thought for fun I’d list some common wedding traditions and where they originally came from.

Engagement rings:  A symbol of true love, and the intent to commit. Originally this little band of gold meant that the bride to be had been purchased from her father, the dowry paid, and it was a warning to back off. She belonged to someone. The French made it romantic in the 16th century by creating the gimmal ring. These rings intertwined and were broken apart, one given to the groom, one to the bride to be. On their wedding day, the groom would take his off and put in on the brides finger, locking the rings back together in a symbol of marriage. With the wedding band, the custom goes back to ancient Egypt, where they placed it on the left hand and third finger, believing the vein in the finger went straight to your heart.

In ancient Rome, they employed a little trickery by putting together a wedding party. They believed that demons wanted to break up the wedding and would target the bride and groom. To prevent this, they developed a wedding party that would dress exactly like the happy couple, in turn tricking the demons and preventing them from targeting the bride and groom. Today, it is custom for the bride to stick her bridesmaids in the ugliest, most garish dresses she can find. Shows like Say yes to the dress, have become popular for just that reason. Ah, how times change. As a side note, bridesmaids and groomsmen were later used as backup if the groom or bride should decide to run away before the nuptials. Getting married wasn’t cheap business, it still isn’t and the bride’s family and the groom’s family always had back up standing by to take the vows. Someone was getting married.

Veils in ancient times were made of heavier cloth that hid the bride’s face. This prevented other men who were in love with the bride from recognizing her and  absconding with her. This also prevented the groom from knowing exactly what he was getting until he sealed the deal. Many a man was tricked with a swap. When the veil was lifted and he went to kiss his bride, sometimes it wasn’t who he thought it to be.

In Jewish tradition, a groom steps on a glass. This symbolizes the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and that he should never forget the hardships his ancestors had to bear.

And the red slipper on the roof? Why that’s like hanging a do not disturb on the door. It means the couple is on their honeymoon and you should leave them alone.

The honey moon. Well, the bride was kidnapped and hidden from her family until they called off the search. The best man’s job was to distract while the groom’s family made off with the goods. While in hiding, the couple would drink a beverage called mead. And you guessed it. It’s made from honey. This custom has not completly gone away. My mother was kidnapped leaving the church and run all over town with the bride's family for a couple hours, while my father and his groomsmen chased after her. Watch your brides, guys. And the best men better be on their toes. Makes me wonder how many people have had this happen to them?

That’s it for today. These are common wedding traditions in the United States. Tell me about some other customs in other countries and their origins.

I’m off to a wedding. Have a great day!



Cate Masters said...

I like the idea of a gimmal ring. Funny how most of these other traditions relate to men "owning" the women. Guess that's why I never had a wedding, lol

Samantha Gail said...

LOL! Cate, I think you're right but I sure love those "married filing jointly" tax benefits:)