With June now here and the wedding season in full FULL swing, I thought a post about wedding traditions (and how they came about) could be fun. Let me know what you think!
How did June become the most popular month for weddings? (at least up until about 15 years ago…) Well, when most people made their money farming, couples timed their weddings to harvest time. A June wedding meant that the wife could still help if a pregnancy soon followed, and would probably mean giving birth early enough to also help in the following years harvest (anybody happy that industry has changed this?? I am!) Also, long LONG ago, bathing was a considered a luxury and was often a once a year activity that occurred in late May or early June. Choosing June meant that you, your fiance, and most of your guests would still smell fairly acceptable (again, thank you industry for changing this!). However, bouquets were carried so that the smell of fresh flowers was available in case freshness was wearing off at this point. Herbs were often added to that bouquet as well. Others claim that the bouquet was also seen as a sign of fertility.
Rain on the wedding day is good luck? Well, with the above paragraph in mind, it could perhaps mean another opportunity to bathe. But in other considerations, rain is needed for fields to grow and a plentiful harvest, and is also seen as a symbol of renewal (washing away the past and giving a clean slate for a fresh start). It is seen as a symbol of fertility as well, so rain on a wedding day was supposed to mean a couple would be blessed with a new start and many children.
Tossing the garter and bouquet came about to protect the bride. In medieval times, guests would rush the bride at the end of the celebration, ripping her dress to pieces as pieces of the brides gown were seen as good luck (except for the bride I guess, who has just been mobbed and apparently left standing in a destroyed dress…). Bouquets and garters began to be thrown as a way to deter individuals from doing this. (I wonder if cathedral length veils started this way too? This could at least give the poor girl a head start and a piece of clothing to rip apart that wouldn’t leave her standing naked in front of a crowd…). Yikes.
Ever wonder where the word ‘honeymoon’ came from? In ancient times, Teutonic weddings were only held under a full moon. After the wedding, the bride and groom would drink honey wine every day for a moon cycle, 30 full days. In other cultures, the period of time symbolizes when the groom would kidnap his bride and keep her in a place where nobody could find her, for fear of her being kidnapped and taken away. Again, yikes.
Bridal party attire wasn’t always a different color from the bride. In fact, the bridal party was meant to confuse evil spirits who may want to cast bad luck upon the bride and groom. The bridal party would dress in similar colors as the bride and groom so these evil spirits would not know who to focus on. As fabric dye became more available and the fear of evil spirits lessened, bridal party attire was changed.
The ‘ring’ finger was selected as the Romans believed that there was a vein in that finger that led directly to the heart. However, in Eastern Orthodox traditions the ring was worn on the right hand (which is OK, seeing as how all of our veins in some way make their way to our heart). This part of the ceremony used to be where the groom would present his wife with coins of silver and gold, to show his ability to take care of her. Men wearing rings is a fairly new tradition, starting in the 1940’s, and this came about for many reasons. My favorite is the fact that in the 40’s the women’s rights movement became stronger, and women did not like to be seen as the ‘property’ by wearing a wedding ring. Husbands began to wear them too as a symbol of being a married, faithful (and yes, taken) man.
Just a few fun facts to get your June started!