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The strange origins of wedding traditions.

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There are many strange wedding traditions in the world. The Jews smash a glass at a wedding to commemorate the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, and in some countries people throw shoes at the wedding car as it leaves, as it is supposed to bring good luck. So, where do some of our wedding traditions come from?

Wedding rings originated in Egypt and were only given to the bride as a symbol of ownership by her husband but thanks to some progress, the rings are now exchanged to show that the ownership goes both ways! The Sicilians were responsible for adding the diamond to the wedding ring, as they believed the diamond was forged in a fire of love, but this was really popularised by Archduke Maximilian of Austria when he married Mary of Burgundy in 1477. The father giving away the bride was linked to this idea of ownership, so we have not progressed quite that far. Wedding rings go on the fourth finger because people believed that there was a vein called the vena amoris that ran from the fourth finger directly to the heart.

These days the honeymoon is seen as romantic getaway for the bridal couple but the tradition actually comes from a time when men would kidnap women to marry, and then would hide for a month after the wedding so that the woman's family would stop looking for her. The name comes from the Norse tradition of drinking honeyed wine for a month after the wedding.

The bridal veil is a left over from ancient times when we had arranged marriages, and the groom sometimes did not know what his wife would look like before the wedding day. In Roman times women also wore veils because they believed this helped to ward off evil spirits.

The brides bouquet has disputed origins depending on where you are in the world. In eastern Europe the bouquet originally consisted of mint and marigold to ward of evil spirits. In western Europe the bouquet had a more practical purpose. People in the middle ages only bathed a few times a year, and the traditional first bath after winter was in May, so people got married in May, just after the first bath, and carried flowers to smell better.

White wedding dresses have nothing to do with purity but date from the wedding of Queen Victoria in 1840. Before that date people got married in red dresses (they still do in most of the non-western world), but because washing was so hard in those days, having an immaculate white dress was a symbol of ostentatiousness, of wealth, and this is what made the white dress popular.

Bridesmaids date from the Roman times, when they were asked to dress similarly to the bride to confuse exes and evil spirits.Basically, they were decoys to confuse kidnappers and keep you safe from the spirit world. The best man, on the other hand, literally was the “best man”. He was supposed to be the biggest, toughest friend you had, who could keep you safe from someone who didn’t want you marrying the bride.

The tradition of wedding bells originated in Ireland, where bells were thought to ward off evil spirits. This fear of evil spirits was also why the husband carried his bride over the threshold, because for some reason, brides were susceptible through their feet.

Mendelssohn's "Wedding March" became traditional at weddings when it was selected by Victoria, The Princess Royal for her marriage to Prince Frederick William of Prussia on 25 January 1858. Two other pieces are sometimes used for the brides entry, the "Bridal Chorus" of Richard Wagner's opera Lohengrin, or Jeremiah Clarke's "Prince of Denmark's March".