Posted by: penpatience | May 1, 2021




WRITERS WORDS: “No human relation gives one possession in another—every two souls are absolutely different. In friendship or in love, the two side by side raise hands together to find what one cannot reach alone.” –Kahill Gilbran






Every culture, historically and to date, has distinct marital customs. Wedding customs are centuries old with older customs outdated compared to more current centuries’ ideals and values. Many customs experienced today have incorporated bits and pieces of both old and new marital rituals, but have become individualized by almost anything goes traditions.  Much has changed since earlier days when a caveman seeking a wife captured her and dragged her away into his cave selecting her for her potential as a good worker and breeder of additional workers! 😊 What are the old, new and, perhaps, atypical customs today?

     About the old…. Arranged marriage was purely an economic transaction, practical merger of labor and property between two families. There is an old German saying, “it is not man that marries maid, but field marries field, vineyard marries vineyard, cattle marry cattle.” Royal marriages were arranged for political reasons with the wedding a sort of treaty to unite or expand empires. In the nineteenth century, arranged marriages helped to expand the American frontier when mail-order brides became available to hard working bachelors in sparsely populated western states.

     The diamond was and still remains a symbol of matrimonial happiness. Originally the diamond was considered an emblem of innocence. Folklore has it, that if a man wants to know whether his bride has been faithful, he need only hold a diamond over her head when she sleeps. Should she turn toward him, she is true, but if she turns away, she has been unfaithful. Folklore does not say if she keeps the gem upon passing the test….!

     And let there be cake. A cake has been a part of wedding celebrations since Roman times. It’s said a thin loaf was broken over the bride’s head at the close of the ceremony. The wheat from which it was made symbolized fertility, the crumbs were eagerly sought by guests as good luck charms. During the middle ages, it was traditional for the bride and groom to kiss over a pile of small cakes. When an imaginative baker decided to mass all the cakes together and cover them with frosting, the modern tiered wedding cake was born.

So, what’s new?  Well, brides (in the U.S.) are no longer “given away” in arranged marriages. Today, brides are usually escorted down the aisle by their fathers or other close male relative, but not given to a groom as personal property.

Marriage by capture now has become courtship. The diamond ring is an engagement symbol of a future nuptial. Men and women no longer have to prove past innocence before marriage. Today marriage is a private declaration by the bride and groom of love and commitment with the desire to live long lives together.  Wedding cakes are often expensive, large-tiered and artfully prepared confections. Brides and grooms often cut the first pieces and some couples may also feed the cake to each other. Many brides continue to wear white, formerly a celebration symbol, again, from Roman times. Centuries later, the custom of wearing white was an indication of purity. Many brides today continue to follow the custom of wearing white dresses or gowns because of the custom and not to embrace the older symbolism.

When I muse about, “The Whatever,” gone is that old saying, “first comes marriage, then comes a Mrs. pushing a baby carriage.” Sometimes, the reverse occurs. The carriage may come before the marriage. Marriages today often reflect individual couples’ decisions. Elopements to Las Vegas, nuptials by Justices of the Peace, marriages, although most still within chosen churches and faiths, are conducted on beaches, cruise ships, backyards, favorite vacation spots, etc. What shouldn’t change are wedding customs that continue to promote joyful marriage celebrations.  And Cheers: to a tradition so old its origin is unsure: Many brides today continue to wear Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue on their wedding day.


The month of May honors Mothers:




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