The concept of weddings has changed a lot over the centuries and people no longer have to marry in a church, nor necessarily, wear a long white dress and a blue garter. But that does not stop a lot of people seeking comfort from the traditions, or superstitions, that have been handed down through the generations. Some of these traditions are so entrenched; many of us perform them without really understanding the significance they are believed to have on the newlywed’s relationship.
For example, did you know that the stag party tradition began in Ancient Greece? Apparently Spartan soldiers would spend the evening before their wedding day celebrating with their male friends. This tradition was thought to offer assurance to the groom’s friends that, although he was entering married life, he would not neglect his relationships with his friends as a result. The soldiers traditionally made a lot of noise and smashed glasses in an effort to keep away the evil spirits thought to gravitate towards the bride and groom on their special day. It really does not sound like much has changed, does it?
The custom of throwing confetti at weddings dates back to the Pagans who threw grains and seeds in the belief that this would enhance the couple’s fertility. Another wedding tradition associated with fertility is the giving of wedding favours to the female guests. This Italian tradition originated with the bride giving out sugar-coated almonds to each female guest. The sweets were given as symbols of health, happiness, long life and fertility.
Another wedding tradition that very few people omit from their ceremony is the wedding cake but how many of us actually know where this practice originated? Initially the wedding cake was actually a number of small cakes brought by the guests and stacked on top of each other. The bride and groom would kiss each other over the tower of cakes and a successful smooch was thought to bring good luck to their relationship. The Romans added a twist to this custom which few of us practice today – they used to break the cakes over the bride’s head in the belief that it would make her more fertile! It is not surprising that particular ritual hasn’t really caught on in modern times.
Many of the wedding institutions practiced today were originally introduced to help ward off evil spirits as brides were believed to be particularly vulnerable. It was for this reason that the Romans introduced the bride’s veil, believing it would disguise the bride and therefore outsmart the spirits. The veil was introduced into the UK in the 19th century and has since been associated with modesty and chastity.
Of course, the dangers of evil spirits do not really play a significant part in modern-day weddings or relationships, but the inclusion of specific rituals can really add a certain sense of occasion to the day and perhaps recalling those good luck customs will help you feel even luckier on your wedding day.