One of India’s most lovable and welcoming traits is our country’s ability to accept and assimilate aspects of various cultures- and this definitely applies to wedding traditions. From mehendi ceremonies to wearing white on your wedding day – we have desi-fied all kinds of customs from around the world. But, have you ever wondered where they came from? What inspired bridal showers? Why is a ‘best man’ so important? Why is the wedding cake so essential? All good questions. Here’s our attempt to unravel the significance behind some of our more beloved ‘new’ traditions
The Best Man For The Job
Rumour has it that choosing a best man began with German wedding traditions, and more specifically with the Germanic Goths. If the bride’s family didn’t approve of the groom, the couple often resorted to runaway marriages. And sometimes if women were in short supply in the groom’s village, he’d have to head over to the next settlement to abduct a bride.
Naturally, he needed help to circumvent the bride’s angry relatives and friends. The ‘best man’ was just that – the best man for the job, and his partner in crime. Undying devotion and friendship? Not a bad wedding gift idea either.
A Shower Of Blessings
Bridal showers are one of the international wedding traditions that actually originated in friendship and sisterhood. The tradition began in Holland when brides married against their families wishes. Since the couple were denied the traditional dowry, the bride’s friends would get together and give her wedding gifts that would ensure that she didn’t enter her husband’s home empty-handed. Now that’s a ‘squad’ worth having!
Let Them Eat Cake!
Many tiered cakes are now a staple at weddings, often featuring figurines to symbolise the bride and groom. However, what many people don’t know is that these baked goodies aren’t just decorative (and yummy!). They actually have deep cultural significance. Originally, the cake wasn’t eaten at weddings but was thrown at the bride and groom. Sounds like a waste? Well, there was some logic to it. The first wedding cakes were made of wheat, which was traditionally thrown at couples to signify fertility and prosperity.
Wheat and barley grains evolved into bread, and Roman wedding traditions dictated that unsweetened barley bread had to be broken over the bride’s head to symbolise purity. Thankfully, bread transitioned into cake and chefs began to insist that the guests consume rather than chuck!
Put A Ring On It
Wedding rings are a universal symbol of marriage that are recognised world over. However, few people realise that the tradition began with the bride and groom trying to tie their lives to each other – quite literally! The groom would encircle the bride’s wrists and ankles with ropes made out of grass to keep her spirit bound to her body. The practise has evolved into the wedding rings we wear today. Interesting fact: wedding bands have subsequently been fashioned out of leather, stone, metal, and more recently, gold and silver.
Wedding rings are also worn on the ‘ring finger’ or the fourth finger on your left hand. This is because traditionally it was believed that the vein in this finger led directly to the heart. How romantic!