With the holidays all around us, it’s easy to get nostalgic about traditions. They’re everywhere, from your childhood stocking you still use at your parents’ house, to the meal you eat there and your place at that table. Keeping things traditional evokes a sense of warmth and happiness.
The same can be said of weddings. There are hundreds of traditions that are associated with weddings, like “something borrowed, something blue,” throwing rice, and even the white dress. But where did these traditions come from? People tend to go through the motions with weddings, and despite all of the weddings I’ve attended, I couldn’t tell you why any of those things happen. After some investigation, however, we have some answers.
As is the case with “something borrowed, something blue,” this sentiment dates back to the Victorian Era. Something old symbolizes the bride’s bond to her former family and life, while something new refers to the couple beginning their new life together. What about borrowing something though? Well, being that you’re meant to borrow something from another married woman, the sentiment is that you’ll have the same joy and happiness as her. And lastly, something blue; the color blue has long been the symbol of truth and consistency. What a lovely little package of good tidings!
What about the age-old tradition of showering the bride and groom with rice as they exit the church? This tradition actually dates back to ancient times, as rice is a symbol of a life-giving seed, or fertility. The idea is that throwing rice will give the bride and groom luck in starting their family.
Brides in white dresses is another commonality amongst weddings that nobody gives a second thought to. But why do they wear white? Why not blue to show your groom how faithful you are, or pink that signifies romance, love, and friendship? Again, this tradition dates back to Victorian times, Queen Victoria more specifically. She chose in favor of a white gown instead of the traditional silver royal one, and it has been a trend ever since. Historically, white also symbolized purity and virginity, and was also thought to ward off evil spirits.
The next time you’re an attendee at a wedding, or you’re walking down the aisle yourself, take time to remember and appreciate that the details are not entirely happenstance. Just like tradition emerges each year during the holidays, so too does it show its face during weddings to celebrate and honor this exceptional moment in a couple’s life.