The Strange Roots of Today's Wedding Traditions

October 4, 2018

© Press Association

A wedding is full of traditions. The funny thing is many of us don't know what they mean or where they came from. For instance, what role do the bridesmaids and best man have to do with a wedding? While today those roles are held by our closest friends and family, the tradition of bridesmaids likely began in ancient Rome and China, when the bride would have to travel to the town of the groom. For protection and disguise, she was accompanied by a band of female guardians who dressed just like her. The idea was not only to confuse evil spirits who might have it out for the young wife-to-be, but also rival suitors looking to kidnap her or thieves trying to nab her dowry. The best man may sound like it's a role for your best friend but its roots date back to ancient times too when marriage wasn't always a voluntary event. The best man was often enlisted to kidnap an unwilling bride from her home, or in some cases, to whisk away a willing bride from relatives who didn't approve of her choice. During the ceremony, the best man stood guard to ensure the bride stayed put and that family members didn't steal her back. These attendants weren't necessarily the groom's best friend or closest male relative. Rather they were "best" at wielding a sword or other weapon to fend off potential wedding crashers. While today, a white wedding dress symbolizes purity, it was Britain’s Queen Victoria to broke tradition and started a new one by wearing a white wedding dress when marrying Prince Albert in 1840. Beforehand, brides would wear red or their best dress regardless of color. In ancient Greece and Rome, brides carried bouquets made of herbs and spices to ward off evil spirits. Later in the Victorian era, flowers became the matrimonial standard and tossing the bouquet was meant to distract guests from tearing off pieces of their wedding dress for luck. While the honeymoon is seen as a welcome vacation from the months and years of planning for a wedding, it too has a dark past.  Besides allowing a newlywed couple time to start a family, it most likely started when brides were kidnapped. Grooms often hid away their stolen spouses for a while until their families either stopped looking for them or they got pregnant (when presumably it was too late to rescue them).

SOURCE: Mother Nature Network

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