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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

From The First Wedding...

Today I'm reaching back to my favourite subject - history - to see how the wedding ceremony evolved.

Do you know how the first humans were wed? Whether you believe it or not, it is a truly beautiful and touching piece. Adam had spent unnumbered years alone, naming the animals, talking to God...but was the only one of his kind. And God saw "it was not good for the man to continue by himself". He made a helper...

In the world's first operation, he took part of Adam's body, rich in DNA, and created woman. God himself brought her to the man, who broke out into poetry (an enduring symbol of love), saying he at last found bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh. And she became his wife, his love.

No rituals, no veil or rice (having no other humans around to throw it would of course be a hindrance!), just two people committing to a life together, in the most beautiful garden ever created. Sigh...who wouldn't want a wedding so simple and exquisite, with God's blessing?

So...how did the other wedding customs develop?

In Bible times, a woman was walked by her parents to a man's home, which was a public announcement that she was wed. The groom usually had family and friends gathered for a celebration feast...and the wedding reception was created.

For a long time, the white dress was viewed by many as symbolising a virginal state - but apparently it was teh colour of joy in Roman and Greek times. So it's to bring the couple happiness throughout their lives.

Wedding veils also came from ancient Roman and Greek tradition (though Hebrew women wore them as well) in a sign of willing submission of female to her man...and his lifting it symbolised that only he had the right to see this woman, to touch her. But the veil in ancient times was worn from the day of betrothal: it symbolised the woman's being taken, and her modesty: she would not show herself to another man.

The carrying of a handkerchief apparently stems from the belief that a bride's tears are lucky to catch and mean good crops! So farmers would give her a handkerchief and take it back after.

The one I found hilarious was where the bouquet stems from. Apparently in olden times brides carried bundles of garlic and stinking herbs to frighten demons away!!

Why the blue garter? In ancient Israel, brides wore a blue ribbon to signify "fidelity." Why tossing it? In medieval Britain the wedding revellers often invaded the bride and groom's privacy and played around there, tossing items of clothing.

The attendants' dressing like the bride and groom comes from an ancient tradition to confuse evil-wishers or rejected suitors, so they wouldn't know who to curse!

The trusseau came from the French word, trousse, which meant bundle. The trousseau originated as a bundle of clothing and personal possessions the bride carried with her to her new home.

Engagement rings are also old, but stemming more from medieval times, a more modern take on the veil. The first diamond ring was found in Italy, believed to be given in the middle ages. The claddagh ring, worn in Ireland, is also of very old times, and was worn by girls from a young age. Heart point facing up: she's single. Facing down toward the heart: she's taken. Why do we wear engagement rings on the third finger, left hand? The vein in that finger is strong and leads straight back to the heart. Aaawww...

The throwing of rice is an old Asian custom that means, may your pantry always have food in it and your home happy. I like that. :-)))

The wedding cake stems from an old custom of breaking bread over the bride's head so she would be fertile...gotta laugh at that one. :-D

And the honeymoon? That's one of the most fascinating rituals of all! In ancient times, many marriages were by kidnap. When a man wanted to take a bride, he would abduct the woman of his choice (usually unwilling) and take her to a place where her relatives wouldn't find them. While the moon went through all its phases, (about 30 days) they hid from the searchers and drank a brew made from honey. Hence, we get the word, honeymoon. And hopefully by that time, she would be pregnant and the family wouldn't take her back.

Thanks for visiting down forgotten memory lane with me, and special thanks to www.ourmarriage.com for a few of these fascinating insights into the customs of marriage. Any mistakes made are not by them, but from my own research, and I claim full responsibility. :-)))

Melissa J


Blogger Sarita Leone said...

What a wonderfully interesting post! I learned so much. :)

June 4, 2008 at 5:41 AM  
Blogger Myrna said...

This is fascinating information, Melissa! I'm glad brides don't carry garlic anymore.

June 4, 2008 at 5:47 AM  
Blogger CrystalGB said...

Great post. What fascinating information.

June 4, 2008 at 6:03 AM  
Blogger Snookie said...

That was a very interesting post!

June 4, 2008 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger Ellen said...

Thanks for explaining the traditions. I had wondered about a lot of them and didn't know where to look.

June 4, 2008 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger Brandy said...

The veil has many stories. *G*
Thanks for all these. I like learning little tidbits of history. *G*

June 4, 2008 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger Cheri2628 said...

Very interesting! I think it is fascinating to find out the origins of some of our customs.

June 4, 2008 at 2:38 PM  
Blogger Linda Goodnight said...

cool info!

June 4, 2008 at 3:20 PM  
Blogger kimmyl said...

Very interesting and delighful post. Thanks

June 4, 2008 at 8:54 PM  
Blogger Melissa James said...

So glad you like them, everyone - I adore research and it was so much frun to learn these.

Melissa J

June 4, 2008 at 9:50 PM  
Blogger catslady said...

Very interesting to find out how some of these things started. Although they aren't really done for the same reasons any more, it's still fun to know.

June 5, 2008 at 10:03 AM  
Blogger robynl said...

such fascinating info on how the wedding ceremony involved; it truly was fun finding out about it.

June 5, 2008 at 8:10 PM  
Blogger Lily said...

Thanks for sharing this... I guess they are right when they say a wedding is all about tradition!

June 8, 2008 at 12:45 PM  
Blogger Nathalie said...

It is nice to know that in the beginning... it was simple and all about love as now I sometimes feel it is more of a show than anything else!

June 16, 2008 at 2:23 PM  
Anonymous JoLynn Backes said...

What a wonderful recountment of the first ceremony. It's so interesting to see where these customs come from.

June 17, 2008 at 1:00 PM  

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