Behind the rhyme
21 Jun 2011
Behind the rhyme
There are few events more tied up in custom, tradition and superstition than a wedding. We’ve researched the most commonly held traditions to help you decide whether you want to follow them to the letter, or pick and choose elements that suit your day.
Old, new, borrowed and blue
Something old: This represents the couple’s friends and family who will hopefully remain close during the marriage. In the past, this was often an old garter given to the bride by another happily married woman in the hope that her happiness in her marriage and the stability of married life would be passed on.
Something new: This represents the new adventure the newlyweds will be embarking on as a married couple.
Something borrowed: This is traditionally something lent by a member of the bride’s family – and it must be returned to ensure good luck. This symbolises the love and support of family and friends.
Something blue: Believed to originate in ancient Israel where the bride wore a blue ribbon in her hair to represent love and fidelity.
A girl for all seasons
According to historic predictions, the month you marry can determine what kind of bride you will be. It’s up to you to decide if any of this rings true!
A January bride will be a prudent housekeeper and very good tempered.
A February bride will be an affectionate wife and a tender mother.
A March bride will be a frivolous chatterbox, somewhat given to quarrelling.
An April bride will be inconsistent, or forceful, but well-meaning.
A May bride will be handsome, agreeable and practical.
A June bride will be impetuous and generous.
A July bride will be handsome, but a trifle quick-tempered.
An August bride will be agreeable and practical as well.
A September bride will be discreet, affable and much liked.
An October bride will be pretty, coquettish, loving but jealous.
A November bride will be liberal and kind, but sometimes cold.
A December bride will be fond of novelty, entertaining but extravagant.
The typical wedding favour is five sugared almonds tied together in a pouch. The treat symbolises the sweet (sugared) and bitter (almond) aspects of life, and the five almonds individually represent health, wealth, fertility, happiness and longevity.
Knot tonight, darling
The phrase “tie the knot” comes from ancient Rome, when the bride would have worn a girdle fastened with many tiny knots. The groom would have the pleasure of untying all those knots before the marriage could be consummated.
All white now
The tradition of wearing a white gown was started by Queen Victoria who began the present-day trend by wearing a white wedding dress to her marriage in 1840. If you’re a stickler for superstition, you should certainly buy your dress as it is considered unlucky for the bride to make her own.
Circle of love
Wearing a wedding band came from ancient Egyptian tradition where the wedding ring was considered a symbol of unending love, since it has no beginning and no end. In medieval England, the practice of wearing the ring on the third finger of the left hand came from the belief that the veins in the left hand led directly to the heart. Therefore, by wearing the ring on this finger, the couple were joined at the heart.
Veils were traditionally worn to protect brides from the evil eye or evil spirits. Old English brides wore veils because of the belief that a rival unmarried woman in the church might be a witch and cast a spell before the ceremony took place, while Roman brides wore theirs to confuse evil spirits as to their identity.
I should be so lucky
Looking for that extra bit of luck on your wedding day? Don’t forget…
• A horseshoe is often given to the bride to carry for luck, but must be carried upright. If tipped upside down the luck will run out.
• If a cat is heard sneezing on the day before the wedding, the bride will be lucky in her marriage.
• Once the ceremony has started, it is bad luck for the groom to look back over his shoulder until he is married.
• We all know it’s considered bad luck to be seen in your wedding dress by your prospective husband before the ceremony, but did you know it’s also considered unlucky for a bride to look in the mirror when fully dressed, lest she offend the gods with the image of a married woman? Over the past centuries, most brides have removed a shoe before looking at their reflection.