Traditional Marriage: The Origin of Marriage

Traditional Marriage: The Origin of Marriage

Wedding Traditions Unveiled traditional wedding

Weddings are that particular occasion where two people come together to rejoice their love for one another. However, was it always this way? How did marriage come to exist, and what is the meaning behind some of the many strange traditions observed today?


We presume that marriage has always been a sanctimonious tradition, yet marriage was not initially about wedding ceremony or true love. The original goal of marriage was to ensure a safe environment for the bringing up of kids, in addition to the acquisition and transfer of property.


Certainly, it is the rather shallow marriage of convenience which is the original meaning of marriage. In the long run, marriage became more about love, and less about the property. During that time, though, several different traditions and false notions have surfaced. Here are just a few of these.


In Ghana, Africa, location is everything. Women in Ghana are regarded as the life force of the tribe. Finally, they were where all the great fighters and leaders originated. As a result, Zulu culture viewed women as great homes. Consequently, it was considered customary for the prospective husband to move to his bride’s village.


Clitoridectomies, that is female circumcision were practiced by The Mande people of Africa. At this period, the women were trained on how to be good wives. They were also taught a special secret language that is only spoken by married women.


Jumping over the broom was common African tradition. The broom has become a sign of the sweeping out of the old, to welcome in the new. The part about jumping over is really of North American origin. It was from the era of slavery when slaves were not permitted to marry. By jumping over the broom, the couple was solidifying the importance of their marriage.


In 1076, in Europe, it was legalized that no man should give away his daughter, or other female relation, without a priestly blessing. Interestingly enough, it was not until the 16th century that clerics were even necessitated to perform wedding ceremonies. Another interesting medieval practice: women at the time would pluck their hairlines so as to achieve higher foreheads, which were considered more beautiful at the time.


Traditional/conventional Jews have a neat custom where the bride walks 3 to 7 times around her prospective husband. This is done to indicate that she is a protecting wall for her husband and that by treading inside, their family status has changed. Ah, but what of the breaking of glass? This is done to symbolize the many, many catastrophes that have happened to the Jewish people. It serves as a memento of those bad times.


Interestingly, the Muslim faith doesn’t actually celebrate weddings. A marriage is sternly an officious ceremony. The marriage takes place inside an office, rather than a mosque. The wedding is considered a private civil/religious contract. The only real tradition here is that the groom must give his bride a dower to view as insurance for her future.


Japanese (Shinto) weddings are also small and private affairs, although they are far more sophisticated. The wife and husband to drink three times from three separate cups of sake. It is done to assure luck and happiness in the marriage.


Chinese brides are given chestnuts and jujubes. This was done with the desire of the bride to conceive a son as soon as possible. Brides wear red dresses to represent the color of love and joy. As we shall see further down, Europeans sighted the color red in an entirely different light.


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Speaking of Europeans, lots of Eastern orthodox ceremonies attributed the placement of wreaths on the heads of both bride and groom. It was done to signify their place as king and queen of the heavenly kingdom of Earth.


With such a wide diversity of traditions out there, it is interesting to note that both of them are nearly common among human traditions: the wedding veil and the wedding ring.


The Veil

Wedding veils saw their origin among the Romans. Ancient Romans thought that women were most vulnerable to possession by demonic spirits during weddings (maybe they had lots of runaway brides back then). The veil was used to baffle these spirits. To give more assistance to the bride, bridesmaids were dressed in clothing similar to the brides. They were to work as traps for these demons.


When Christianity took over, the veil was changed to signify holiness and humility. This actually took off in Britain during the 1800s. During some Eastern ceremonies, the groom is not permitted to take away his wife’s veil until after the ceremony. Jewish faith took the exact opposite approach. In some Jewish ceremonies, the groom first confirms that the bride is his planned, by placing the veil over her face.


The Ring

Wedding rings are possibly the oldest wedding traditions out there. They can be traced back over Four thousand years, to the Egyptians. Primeval Egyptians made rings out of warped pieces of plants. The ring was intended to represent a love with no end. Egyptians and Romans both placed the ring on the 4th finger of the female’s left hand.


This was done out of the belief that there was a vein on the 4th finger that linked directly to the heart. It was called love vein or the vena amoris When Christianity became the leading religion in Europe, the vena amoris was replaced with a holy seal. High priests would take the wedding ring and touch the first three fingers of the left hand (thumb, index, and middle) while reciting: the father, the son and the Holy Ghost. Upon getting to the 4th finger, the ring was placed on it to seal the marriage.


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For a long whilst the ring went from being an emblem of eternal love to that of ownership. The Romans used it as a trademark. It was worn by the husband’s wife, to indicate his ownership over her. Two thousand years ago, in Asia, this ownership notion was taken to another level with “puzzle rings.” These were rings that were worn by brides as a symbol of loyalty. If a bride were to remove her puzzle ring, it would break to pieces. These pieces could then only be put together by knowing the answer to the puzzle.

traditional marriage

History of wedding traditions

One interesting practice is the presence of a flower on the buttonhole of the groom. The flower compliments one of the flowers in the bride’s bouquet. This was a holdover from ancient times when a knight would wear his lady’s colors in order to show his love for her. I assume that means that in one small way, chivalry isn’t dead.


Then we have the confetti. Previous to being paper, confetti was formerly a mix of rose petals, rice, and grain. Prior to that, it comprises a variety of sweets which are throwing over the couples as they came out from the church. It originates in Italy. Indeed, confetti is Italian for candy.


Finally, what history of weddings article would be whole, without a brief rundown of some popular wedding superstitions?

The day of a wedding ceremony was considered to be crucially important. As such, a little poem was invented to allow prospective couples to choose the appropriate days for their marriage.


Monday for prosperity 
Tuesday for wellbeing 
Wednesday the best day of all 
Thursday for fatalities 
Friday for cross 
Saturday for bad luck


Depending on what month one was married in, one’s marriage could be magnificent or disastrous. By far the most awful month of all was May. This was owing to the historic pagan belief that May was the start of summer.


This was celebrated by the carnival of Beltane (generally called May Day, now). As part of the celebration, couples were expected to have outdoor orgies to sanctify the crops and the Earth. Consequently, it was regarded as a bad month for a prospective couple to marry.


June was the best month for marriage simply because June was named after the Roman goddess of love: Juno. Interestingly, June is now the second most accepted month for marriages. August has lately taken over the top spot for weddings.


Next, we come to the bridal dress itself. Whilst many brides today marry in white (which signifies maidenhood), the custom is only as old as the 16th century. Earlier than that, brides pick whatever color dress they would like. There was a general rule of thumb though.


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Married in White, you have chosen right, 
If married in Blue, there will be loyalty and faithfulness, 
Also married in Pearl, your love life will be full of whirl, 
Anyone that married in Brown, suggested that he will dwell in a city 
Likewise married in Red, means you will wish yourself dead, 
If you married in Yellow, you will be ashamed of your fellow, 
Any person that married in Green, he or she ashamed to be seen, 
 Your spirit will sink If you married in Pink
Married in Grey, you will go far away, 
If someone married in Black, she will wish herself back.


Green dresses are considering as being a symbol of promiscuity. This reminds us of the old saying that a woman has a green gown. This was meant to indicate that she was rolling around in verdant fields. In the earlier time, only Irish women were regarded as okay in a green bridal dress.


Last, but not least, we have the classic wedding poem: Something old, something new. It dated back in the Victorian era, but what does it stand for?

Something old: This signifies the friends of the couple and the expectation that they will remain friends during the marriage. This was usually symbolized by an old garter which is given to the potential bride, by a cheerfully married woman. It was done in the optimism that the happiness would be passed onto the new couple. Something new: The blissful and affluent future of the newlyweds.


Something rented: This is something provided by the bride’s family. It is usually an item that valuable, and that the bride must return after the wedding so as to ensure good luck.

Something blue: This is an Israelite tradition. The bride would wear a blue ribbon in her hair to signify fidelity.


There is one element to the poem that is generally misplaced:

And a silver sixpence in your shoe: The placement of money in the bride’s shoe was done to guarantee wealth and riches in the lives of the new couple. For some reason or another, this section of the tradition doesn’t appear as popular. Possibly that is why a lot of couples run into money problems?

So, when you are consulting the Ms. Manners of wedding etiquette, remember, it’s mostly just folklore. Just be sure to bring the ring.

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Ayodele Taiwo is a graduate of the University of Ado Ekiti( now Ekiti State University) Nigeria. He holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and Management.If you are searching for a reputable and professional writer with a proven track record to produce high quality and exceptional articles for your blog. Contact me to discuss your need now!I am also available for your proofreading, Article writing, Editing, Copywriting, Web content writing, Guest posting, Ghostwriting, Article re-writing, etc.

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