Weddings or traditional ceremonies joining two people together have been going on for centuries, way before organized religions that led to modern weddings were even a vague concept. Because of those deep roots from the past, quite a few “normal” wedding rites are actually modern forms of something our ancestors used to protect couples and their families.
In fact, the romantic feelings behind most of today’s weddings were not the basis for ancient weddings. The basis for ancient weddings was usually for property, land or power and had nothing to do with love. More land or property, which came with the joining of two families by the marriage of their children, meant more power to both.
When the bride walked down the aisle with her father, it symbolized the end of her freedom and the transferring of the “ownership” of his daughter and dowry goods, such as animals, physical goods and/or land. The financial standing of both families was increased by this union of their children.
I am sure you’ve heard or read this traditional blessing or poem that has become a list of items the bride is supposed to wear or carry with her at today’s wedding.
“Something old, Something new, Something borrowed, Something blue and a silver sixpence in your shoe.”
That old mantra dates back to Victorian times and is really a blessing for the couple. “Something old” represented the enduring unions of the wedding of ancestors. Carrying “something new” is a blessing for the future of the couple, while “something borrowed” foretells the support of family and friends. The color blue has been a wedding tradition dating back to ancient Rome and carried over to the Christianity’s Virgin Mary. It has symbolized love, purity and fidelity for centuries.
If the bride wears a silver sixpence in her shoe, prosperity will be in her future. While this is a common British custom, brides everywhere have taken to wearing a coin in their shoes to attract good fortune. There is some evidence that it may have started with a Scottish custom of the groom standing on a silver coin for good luck.
While you might think that the seating of families was so the individual
friends and relatives of the bride and groom could sit together, you would be mistaken. In ancient times, since marriages were for land or power, the families often did not like each other and the separated seating was to keep them from fighting during the ceremony.
A long time ago, it was considered unlucky for a woman to marry a man whose last name began with the same letter as hers. If the bride-to-be would practice writing her married name before the ceremony, she would be tempting fate.
The bride, even today, stands on the groom’s left during the ceremony because, in another time, the groom would carry his sword on his right in order to protect his bride.
With so many superstitions to contend with, it is surprising that any ancient weddings went off as planned. But, in case there was a need to ensure good luck the week before the wedding, the bride could always persuade a cat to eat out of her left shoe so good luck would bless her married life.
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