Wedding Superstitions and Folklore
Traditions & Customs from Around the World
Before the wedding processional, before the couple says “I do,” and before the deal is officially sealed, folklore says that there are many things that can (or fail to) occur that can indicate the supposed success of the marriage. One particular occurrence may be favorable in one culture, yet disastrous in another. Here is an interesting list of wedding superstitions, an explanation of the origins of certain customs, and other wedding ceremony traditions from around the world:
- On her way to the ceremony, it is good luck for the bride to see one (or more) of the following: a policeman; a clergyman; a blind man; a doctor; a frog; a rainbow; a black cat; a dove; a lamb; or sunshine.
- It is considered bad luck if the bride sees: a funeral procession, a lizard, or a pig.
- On his way to the ceremony, it is lucky for the groom to run into a pigeon, a wolf or a goat.
- On his way to propose, it is unlucky for the groom to encounter a blind person, a nun, a monk, or a pregnant woman.
- Other omens of good luck: if the bride finds a spider in her gown; if a child (or the bride herself) sheds tears during the ceremony; if it rains or snows; or if the couple marries during a full moon
Other interesting origins and superstitions:
- The Wedding Boutonniere: During Medieval times, if a lady fancied a particular knight, she would often give him some token—such as a scarf, a flower, or a ribbon—to carry into a tournament or battle with him. The knight was effectively “wearing the lady’s colors.” Therefore, when the groom and groomsmen are all wearing boutonnieres (or the bride’s special flowers), they are decked out in the "colors" of the bride.
- Traditional folklore says that if a younger sister marries before an older sister, the older one must dance barefoot at the wedding, so that she makes sure to find a husband.
- The expression of “tying the knot,” comes from an ancient Celtic custom of hand-fasting, where newlyweds tied their hands together in an “endless knot” (or “eternity knot”), as a symbol of their union.
Traditions from other cultures:
- In English tradition, it is considered bad luck to get married on a Saturday, while it is good luck to get married on a Wednesday (ironic since most weddings are on Saturdays!)
- In Swedish wedding tradition, the bride puts a silver coin in her shoe from her father and a gold coin in the other shoe from her mother. This is a symbol that they are both very important to her. (It also signifies that she will have an easier time during childbirth).
- In Egypt, people pinch the bride for good luck.
- In Morocco, brides take a bath in milk before the wedding as a purity ritual.
- In traditional Czech weddings, peas are thrown at the newlyweds as they make their grand exit.
- At the end of the wedding ceremony, Italian couples throw a vase or glass on the ground, hopefully shattering it into many pieces, as each piece represents the number of years they will share together.
- In Chinese wedding tradition, some guests perform the lion dance, where they dance to the beat of cymbals, gongs, and drums in order to ward off evil spirits.
- In Mexican wedding ceremony traditions, the groom offers the bride 13 gold coins, or arras, which represent Christ and his apostles. After the vows, the priests wraps a band of flowers (or some sort of long band) in a figure eight around the couple to symbolize their infinite unity.
- In some Islamic cultures, eggs are often presented to the couple as gifts, as they represent righteousness and fertility. Sometimes, the groom steps on an egg to show his satisfaction with the union. Other times, an egg is broken during the celebration because white symbolizes luck for the new couple. Also, during the reception, the bride is often hoisted up and paraded around for a couple of hours. When she is finally let down to the ground, this indicates the end of the festivities.