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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Old, New, Borrowed, Blue, & Something about a Shoe? By Rose Anderson

How does that bride charm go? 

Oh, I got it... 

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, a silver sixpence in your shoe. 


The first time I heard it, I had just had my last fitting for my hand-sewn wedding dress. The seamstress surprised me with an extra bit I wasn't expecting. It was a satin under-dress and the hem sported several tiny blue bows with seed pearl centers. She recited the rhyme for me and said it was for luck. So my dress was new, my hair clips were old, my pearl earrings were borrowed, and the blue bows rounded off the whole luck charm. No one told me about the sixpence. The way my feet felt after standing all day and dancing all night, that likely would have been too uncomfortable anyway. 

So where did all this superstition come from?

The internet can be a slippery slope when one is searching for facts about weddings. I've found everything from the completely nonsensical "people only bathed in June so that's when they married" to the very real First kiss is meant to seal the contract of marriage. The Something old, something new makes its appearance in print in 1894, but that article claims the charm is actually a Puritan wedding custom from the 1600s. Makes sense to me. It was a popular and long-established opinion during that time that whenever there was a rite of passage such as a birth, death, or wedding, evil lurked somewhere nearby to take advantage. By setting up trusty talismans ahead of time, evil didn't stand a chance of meddling. But as any Jacobean phobic worth their salt can tell you, there's so much more to watch out for on your wedding day.

A few precautions and assurances ~
  • Egyptian women pinch the bride for good luck on her wedding day.
  • Greeks believe it's lucky to tuck a sugar cube into the bride's glove to sweeten her union.
  • Then there's a bit of Greek culture regarding light spitting in the direction of the bride and groom to keep evil away.
  • Elaborately painted henna designs on hands and feet protect Middle Eastern brides from the evil eye.  
  • Church bells originally rang to ward off evil.
  • Bunches of aromatic herbs also kept evil at bay. We hold bouquets of flowers now.
  • British custom says the best luck can be had if a spider turns up in the wedding dress.
  • Because evil spirits sleep under the doorway, the groom needs to carry the bride across the threshold so they don't wake up and start trouble. 
  • Ancient Greeks and Romans believed a veil protected the bride from evil spirits, and brides have worn them ever since.
  • Although it's the most popular day of the week to marry, according to English folklore Saturday is the unluckiest wedding day. Wednesday is considered the best day to marry on, but Monday for wealth and Tuesday for health works too. 
  • In Hindu tradition, a rainy wedding day is lucky. 
  • In Denmark, the bride and groom traditionally cross-dress to confuse evil spirits. Hmm... 
  • Believe it or not, the flower girl's role went beyond tossing rose petals down the aisle. Her virginity shielded the bride from the devil.
  • As far as virginity goes, the reason behind white wedding dresses in the western world had nothing to do with it. Queen Victoria wore a white gown when she married Albert and everything she did became the fashion. It stuck.
  • In Sweden, the bride gets a silver coin from her father and a gold coin from her mother and puts one in each shoe for prosperity.  
  • At Czech weddings peas and/or lentils are thrown for fertility. So is rice.
  • The Italians have a different twist on the fertility concept, lots of people go for candied almonds over lentils or rice to send wishes of that sort. I had candy-coated almonds at my wedding but didn't know at the time what their significance was. That old symbol of fertility goes back to the female yoni, a symbol of the Goddess. 
  • And speaking of...June is an auspicious month to marry because the Goddess Juno was the protector of women in marriage and childbearing.
  • To the Dutch, a pine tree planted outside the newlyweds' home brings fertility and luck. 
  • The wedding cake we know and love comes from ancient Rome, where a loaf of bread was broken over the bride's head for fertility.
  • In parts of Asia, embroidered cranes on white wedding robes symbolize fidelity.
  • An old wives' tale says if the younger of two sisters marries first, the older sister must dance barefoot at the wedding. If she doesn't, she risks becoming a spinster.
And that was just the tip of the iceberg!

But what about that aforementioned rhyme?

Something old

This token tied the bride to her family and her past.

Something new
This new thing, be it the dress or other item, represents a bride's new life in a new family. 

Something borrowed 
Traditionally, this token would be taken from another wife who was already a happily and successfully married. This passed on a bit of her established good fortune to the new bride. 

Something blue
A blue token of some sort stands for faithfulness, loyalty, and purity.

And a sixpence in your shoe
A solid wish for prosperity. 

The charm worked for me. I've been with my best friend and twin flame for 38 years. So yeah, if you're wondering, that is me at the start of this post. I call it my "in between smiles" shot. I had about an hour of pictures taken up to that point.
:)


Did you do any of these wedding precautions? 
 
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About Rose
Rose is a multi-published, award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and discovering interesting things to weave into stories. She lives with her family and small menagerie amid oak groves and prairie in the rolling glacial hills of the upper Midwest.



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18 comments:

Cara Marsi said...

Interesting blog, Rose. Thanks. I was married 39 years ago in June. I always thought the June bride thing was a cliche, yet that's when I got married. I assume I wore something old, something new, and something blue but I can't remember.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Rose,

A wonderfully informative blog! I really enjoyed reading it. I was also a June bride like Cara many years ago.

vicki batman said...

Hi, Rose! What a lot of great information. I wasn't a June bride, but it didn't matter, I like September because it is cooler and I wanted an outdoor wedding. Alas, my mom said no, no weddings next to the trash cans. lol. I did the phrase thing. My aunt's friend made a garter with blue satin and seed pearls. I asked my soon to be daughter in law if she wanted to wear it and she said yes. She also wore a bracelet my family had given me upon graduating from high school along with one of her mom's at the rehearsal and she carried a handbag of mine.

Rose Anderson said...

Thanks, Cara, Jacqueline, and Viki. I was a September bride myself. :) I didn't have much say in the whole thing, sadly. My mother and older sisters planned it all. Many things I would have done differently. Oh well. My 25th anniversary was exactly as I planned.

Judy Baker said...

I married 43 years ago and did have something old, new, and blue, but never thought about it's origin, thanks for sharing such interesting stuff...

stanalei said...

I love your reference to a twin flame... That's how it is with my husband. Loved this post, Rose.

Jane Leopold Quinn said...

Lots of fun information, Rose. So many religious habits and other habits come from the traditions of ancient peoples and have passed down over the centuries and have been changed to suit the current times. For my first wedding, I wore my mother's gown (old), a veil and Camelot cap (new), probably blue in the garter, and my dad was a banker so he gave me a sixpence. Three and a half years later I was out of that marriage. Second wedding: new blue dress and I don't recall what else filled out the legend. But I guess my luck held for 26 years next week! Rose, I'm glad your marriage turned out better than that look on your face would portend. ;-)

Rose Anderson said...

LOL Jane. That's the look of sometime tired of posed smiles. Actually, as I recall I was turned the other way. My sister called my name and I turned. The rest is there for posterity. ;)

Thanks to Judy and Stanalei too. :) Glad everyone enjoyed the post.

Melissa Keir said...

What a fabulous post! I wore my grandmother's dress. She passed away right before the wedding. She was my best friend. I loved her... while my marriage lasted 20 years, I did find love again.

E. Ayers said...

Ah, I should have married on a Monday! LOL I only slightly remember what I wore. Ours was supposed to have a been a very quiet wedding that grew at the last moment with some family. My dress was new but not a "bridal" dress. Slightly off white, street length, mini dress, it was covered in silver and gold threads. I had gold and pearl earrings that had been a gift from my sister at her wedding three years prior. The borrowed was a bracelet from my best friend's mother, three rows of large matched diamonds. (It was jokingly called the teething ring, as my best friend only wanted that bracelet to teeth on, and over the toddler years, had caused some major panic when it was "lost" into a blanket or whatever. And the blue? I remember the panic. It was finally decided that my bra happened to have a tiny blue bow on it and I figured that was enough! It should have been 45 years this November. But we all know that's impossible because I'm only 45. Fun post!

Paris said...

Great post, Rose! I love finding out all of the fun little customs and superstitions. Loved the photo:)

jean hart stewart said...

Wonderful post... thank you for posting...

Susan Macatee said...

Great post, Rose! It's always interesting to see where traditions we observe today originated. As for my wedding, my dress was new and I wore a blue garter, but otherwise, didn't really follow the tradition.

Gemma Juliana said...

What a wonderful post, Rose. I love learning the hidden meanings behind things we've heard all our lives. I had old, new, borrowed, blue at my wedding, too.

Rose Anderson said...

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your weddings, everyone. Until next month...

Dee Ann Palmer said...

In 1958, I did them all and enjoyed the lore. I knew nothing of the history of the whys, however. Twenty years ago, I discovered that our first daughter-in-law had never heard of them, so I repeated the mantra and, for her shoe, I provided an English coin from the era featured in her bachelor's thesis. I wasn't surprised when our second d-i-l, nine years ago, had to be introduced to them. Then I let her borrow an embroidered hanky that had belonged to her groom's late grandmother…on his dad's side.

My mother bought my floor length wedding dress on sale, and it hangs in my closet still. I'll never be able to get into it again, and my d-i-l's couldn't get into it either.

Thanks for sharing, Rose!

"In every age, the heart loves"

Dee Ann Palmer said...

In 1958, I did them all and enjoyed the lore. I knew nothing of the history of the whys, however. Twenty years ago, I discovered that our first daughter-in-law had never heard of them, so I repeated the mantra and, for her shoe, I provided an English coin from the era featured in her bachelor's thesis. I wasn't surprised when our second d-i-l, nine years ago, had to be introduced to them. Then I let her borrow an embroidered hanky that had belonged to her groom's late grandmother…on his dad's side.

My mother bought my floor length wedding dress on sale, and it hangs in my closet still. I'll never be able to get into it again, and my d-i-l's couldn't get into it either.

Thanks for sharing, Rose!

"In every age, the heart loves"

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