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Wedding Traditions and Their Origins


The wedding ring—nothing in the King James Bible about that! From what source or sources does the tradition of the wedding ring arise? There are multiple contributors to this tradition. In ancient Rome, the practice of giving a betrothal ring was well established. The betrothal or engagement ring was but one of a series of gifts bestowed upon the groom’s bride-to-be, culminating in the wedding band. The circle (ring) has long been a symbol of the eternal. A ring has no beginning and no end. More than 5 thousand years ago, Stonehenge, a ring of monolithic stones, was erected in ancient England. The ring as a symbol of the eternal undoubtedly predates even this ancient ruin.

The custom of wearing the wedding ring on the third finger of the left hand is rooted in the belief that a vein in this finger runs directly to the heart, long viewed as the epicenter of love. Moreover, the left hand is closer to the heart than is the right hand.

The tradition of throwing rice over the heads of a newly married couple has pagan origins. Seeds, as a symbol of fertility and new life, were tossed at bride and groom centuries before Christianity arrived in the British Isles. In the United States, rice was the favored grain until the 1990’s when birdseed became the preference. This was largely due to the belief that birds eating uncooked rice would be harmed. This is totally untrue but many urban myths are! At any rate, rice is a tremendous improvement over the Tudor tradition of throwing old shoes.

What’s that wedding veil all about? It is to conceal the bride from evil spirits and demons of course! Guess what? That is the purpose of bridesmaids too! Confuse the evil spirits! How can they pick out the bride if all are dressed in fine clothes?

Have you ever wondered why the bride stands on the groom’s left. The Germanic tribes had a custom of marrying within their own community. Often, the community would run short of eligible females, so the prospective groom would select the “best man” in the village to help him capture a bride from a neighboring village. During the subsequent marriage ceremony, there was a real possibility that an attempt would be made to recover the kidnapped bride by force. By having the bride to his left, the groom was in a position to ward off the attack with his good right arm! Now you know not only the reason for the bride standing on the groom’s left, by but also the origin of the “best man”.

Have you ever thought why there is a tradition of carrying the bride over the threshold? Well, it seems that there was a superstition in medieval times that if a bride tripped or stumbled upon entering her new home, the marriage would be cursed with unhappiness and a rocky future. To avert this awful possibility, the groom would carry his bride across the threshold.

I hope you found this interesting and fun. I enjoyed the research and consolidating these facts for you, the reader.

Ronald Fisackerly is a writer for Skylighter which sells wedding sparklers , fire lantern and punk sticks as well as a variety of other items.

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Listed: December 30, 2011 8:38 pm