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Old traditions explained

Understanding bridal custom origins can make the ceremony more meaningful

Thursday, January 26, 2012
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Chances are those who have attended a wedding have witnessed some popular traditions. The bride wears a veil, a court of wedding attendants accompanies the bride and groom and birdseed, rice or flower petals are tossed. But have you ever wondered why?

Wedding customs are ripe with tradition and hark back to days when superstition and myth often ruled the day.

There are many traditions surrounding a wedding that people simply accept. But understanding their origins can make the ceremony more meaningful.

Throwing rice: This is an old custom that dates back to the Middle Ages, when wheat or rice were thrown to symbolize fertility for the couple.

Today it has become de rigueur to blow bubbles, toss birdseed or release doves after the ceremony because raw rice can pose a hazard to birds pecking in the area.

Bouquet: The purpose of the bouquet held different meanings in the past. Saracen brides carried orange blossoms for fertility. Others carried a combination of herbs and flowers to ward off evil spirits with their aroma. Bouquets of dill were often carried, again for fertility reasons, and after the ceremony, the dill was eaten to encourage lust.

Bridesmaids: Today, there may be discussions over how many bridesmaids to have, but in ancient times it was “the more the merrier.” That’s because bridesmaids w Here was another measure to keep the bride safe against evil spirits. Essentially, the bridesmaids were decoys for the spirits — dressing like the bride to confuse the spirits or maybe help deter them to leave the bride be.

Wedding rings: Wearing wedding rings dates back to ancient Egypt. The round shape symbolizes eternal love. The ring is worn on the fourth finger of the left hand because it is believed this finger has a blood vessel that goes directly to the heart.

Wedding cake: The traditional wedding cake evolved from Roman times, when the cake was originally made from wheat. It was broken over the bride’s head to ensure fertility. All of the guests eat a piece for good luck. Single women used to place a piece of wedding cake under their pillows in the hopes of finding their own husbands.

Father accompanying the bride: This tradition symbolizes that the bride’s father endorses the choice of husband and is presenting his daughter as a pure bride to that man.

Kissing the bride: In older times, a kiss symbolized a legal bond. Therefore, the bride and groom kissed to seal the deal on their betrothal.

 
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