When it comes to planning a wedding, people have to worry not only about food,
flowers, and what they wear, they also have to honor many traditions, even if they don't
understand their origins or meanings. However, to not follow these traditions,
understood or not, might mean bad luck for the marriage or, at the very least, disgruntled
Every culture cherishes its own marriage traditions and superstitions. Many are
not understood but are still seriously followed because 'it's always been done that way';
(Kendrick). Even people not normally superstitious wouldn't think of violating these
Many traditions originated from old rhymes, folktales or tribal traditions whose
origins are lost in time. For example, one of the original meanings of the word
'wedding'; was to gamble or wager. This comes from the time when a bride price was
required before marriage. This bride price could include land, social status, political
alliances or money. Thus, the 'Anglo-Saxon word 'wedd' meant that the groom would
vow to marry the woman, but it also referred to the bride price (money or barter) to be
paid by the groom to the bride's father'; (Kendrick).
There are equally surprising origins for such traditions as the ring finger, wedding
ring, engagement ring (and its diamond), and wedding cake. For example, the finger
used as the ring finger differs from culture to culture. In Greece during the third century
the index finger was used. In India they used the thumb. The 'modern'; ring finger
started being used in the fourth century when the Greeks originated the belief that the
third finger was connected to the heart by the 'vena amoris,'; or the vein of love.
Use of a wedding ring can be traced back to Roman times, and even back then it
was made of gold. Roman rings were often decorated with a carving of two hands to
symbolize two people journeying through life together as one. Early women's rings also
had keys carved in them, symbolizing that women were able to unlock the hearts of their
It was 'Pope Nicholas I [in 860 AD, who first] decreed an engagement ring become a
required statement of nuptial intent,'; (Kendrick). He insisted that this ring also be ma...
... middle of paper ...
these knots (Kendrick).
The honeymoon is considered a time for the new couple to escape all of the pre-
wedding stresses and just enjoy relaxing with each other before the pressures of married
life set in. Karl says the 'moon'; part of the honeymoon was because customarily the
bride and groom would go away for a whole month, or from full moon to full moon
(132). A honey-flavored wine was frequently enjoyed on the getaway. 'Honey was the
ancient symbol of life, health, and fertility,'; (Karl132). The two words eventually were
combined to denote the honeymoon we know today.
Wedding cakes and diamond rings, white gowns and garters, veils and ring
fingers. These and other traditions of the modern wedding all have their origins in beliefs
and superstitions that are centuries old. Planning a modern wedding can be a hectic,
nerve wracking experience, and the chaos can often blind the young couple to the true
meaning of the ceremony they are about to share. Perhaps if a modern couple took the
time to understand some of the ceremony's customs and traditions their wedding day
would have even greater meaning for them.
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