The Origins of the Most Popular Wedding Traditions
Let’s talk about wedding traditions. We all know them, some of us have had them.
But, have you ever wondered when or how were the wedding traditions created? Who was the mastermind behind them? Do all wedding traditions have a certain meaning?
Well, some facts will remain unknown as there are plenty of traditions surrounding weddings that are a tale as old as time. Nobody really knows where they come from, nor why they are methodically practiced the way they are. They just exist, leaving people unconsciously repeating them generation after generation.
Today, we are going to talk about the traditions that have stood the test of time, and have grown into wedding traditions we practice even today.
Even though people are not certain of where the tradition of getting down on one knee to propose came from, there are multiple ideas as to how the ritual was created.
While on this topic, genuflection is a term you should become familiar with. It is an act of getting down on one knee in front of someone you adore. In the Middle Ages, it was men who mostly practiced this, bending down in front of the women they loved and adored. In religion, getting down on one knee in front of another person is a sign of obedience, loyalty, and respect.
Fast-forwarding to today, almost every proposal involves the man getting down on one knee to propose to his partner. This custom represents deep emotional connection and a certain level of vulnerability, indicating the man is willing to commit to their partners for the rest of their lives. The act is interpreted as almost surrendering to your love, which is extremely romantic in every way!
The practice of getting married dates back to 23,000 years. Around this time, the majority of hunter-gatherers became farmers and the roles of the men and women within households began to develop. The female participants became responsible for raising children and keeping the house clean and tidy while the men had the responsibility of gathering food and keeping other family members safe.
Reasonably, these roles had to be ensured in order to live peacefully, therefore the marriage became necessary.
Unsurprisingly, such folklore is still present today in some countries, cultures, and households, serving as a pointer to the roles of each household member.
The Wedding Veil
Although today, the wedding veil is worn as one of the most beautiful bridal hair accessories that complement the bridal look, it has a much longer history.
The tradition of wearing a wedding veil has a direct connection with the times of arranged marriages. In case you do not know much about this ritual, arranged marriages occur when two families make an agreement for their children to be married one to another. Unfortunately, there are countries where arranged marriages still happen, not allowing people to choose their life partner themselves.
Traditionally, the wedding veil was worn in order for the groom to not be able to see the bride until the wedding reception. Because there was a high chance of the groom not agreeing on marrying the bride if he did not like the way she looked, the risk was avoided by concealing her appearance until they are officially married.
Tying the Knot
Tying the knot is a tradition that has origins from the Roman age. Back then, the custom was considered a crucial part of the wedding where the hands of the groom and the bride were tied and would not be untied until the marriage was official.
Nowadays, this tradition referred to as hand fastening, is still a common act during weddings in different cultures worldwide.
The Wedding Cake
According to the beliefs of Ancient Romans, cakes represent fertility. That is why they would bake cakes and break them over the head of the bride.
Soon after this ritual was adopted, they started stacking the wheat cakes, which leads us to today having several-tier cakes by default. However, in the past, the cakes were stacked as high as they could go and the couple was challenged to kiss over the cake without crashing it. In case they were successful at accomplishing this, the theory was they will have a good and fortunate marriage.
The Wedding Ring
Identical to the wedding veil, the wedding ring holds a lot more meaning than being just wedding jewelry.
The circular shape of rings symbolizes eternity, which is one of the reasons wedding rings exist as a wedding tradition in the first place. The utilization of gold when making betrothal rings first appeared when the Romans were looking for substitute material for papyrus they were using to make rings until then.
Another tradition surrounding wedding rings are the diamond engagement rings. The story begins with Austrian Archduke Maximilian proposing to Mary of Burgundy with a diamond ring. Because the diamonds are earth's hardest gems, they are believed to represent eternity as well.
The meaning of the placement of the wedding rings, however, has origins from Egypt. The Egyptians believed that the fourth finger has a vein that goes straight to the heart, hence the placement of the wedding ring on that particular finger.
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue
This historic Victorian rhyme is the one every contemporary bride has heard of.
'Something Old', as the connection between the family and the past of the bride, is usually a piece of bridal jewelry the bride has inherited from another family member or her mother's wedding dress.
'Something new' symbolizes the success and good fortune in the new life of the bride. For the most part, the brides go for wedding shoes as the new item, but if this is not the case, then the bridal attire is the go-to choice.
'Something borrowed' serves the purpose of reminding the bride of her closest friends and family during the big day, as they are the ones who will always be there for her. Usually, the borrowed item is a small accessory, such as a hairpin or lace scarf.
Finally, the 'something blue' represents loyalty and faithfulness. During biblical times, the blue color was a symbol of purity, so that is when this custom was established. The blue item is also often very small and unnoticeable like a blue ribbon on the garter. However, some brides firmly follow this rule and do not hesitate to incorporate more apparent objects, like shoes, wedding belt, flowers, or wedding necklaces and earring sets that are blue-colored
Tossing the Bridal Bouquet
Originally, the tossing of the bridal bouquet was not a tradition but a replacement for a custom that was found to be potentially troubling for the couple.
In the past, the brides did not toss their bouquets but their garter to a crowd of men. Then, the tradition involves the groom saving his bride from the mob. As a result, it was a common occurrence for brides and grooms to be hurt during the wedding, therefore this tradition was broken for good.
Today, the brides toss their bouquets to a crowd of unmarried women, whole the groom is the one tossing the garter.
The Wedding Car Cans
As a wedding tradition, the tying of cans to the wedding car's bumper comes from the French “charivari” celebration. Essentially, the ritual takes place one night before the wedding and in its core, it is a celebration for the upcoming wedding. To scare away any evil spirits, the neighbors would walk around the village banging their pans and pots to make a loud noise. Tying cans to be dragged behind a moving car represents a modern form of the classical “charivari” celebration.
Right after the whole chaos surrounding the wedding is over, every couple looks forward to going on their honeymoon. The tradition, however, is not a present-day ritual but a one that has been created centuries ago, more precisely the 5th century. In case you did not know, during these times the calendar time was calculated in moon cycles, hence the name of the tradition. Once the newlywed couple is officially married they would practice drinking an alcoholic honey beverage known as mead, for the first month of their marriage.