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Tradition and superstition

No matter how unconcerned with superstition you are in your everyday life, as your wedding day draws closer you may suddenly find yourself wanting to keep on the right side of tradition and superstition.

So why do so many brides find themselves reaching for something old, new, borrowed and blue and where do these traditions come from?

The traditions and superstitions are all to do with bestowing the couple with luck and fertility. Many have changed over time, while others are diluted versions of old customs.

The rhyme "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a sixpence in her shoe" comes from an ancient Israel custom where brides wore a blue ribbon in their hair to symbolise their fidelity. It was later embellished be the Victorians. Something old was an old garter which was given to the bride by a happily married woman so that the new bride would also enjoy a happy marriage. Something new looks to the future for health, happiness and success. Something borrowed is an opportunity for the bride's family to give her something as a token of their love (it must be returned to ensure good luck), and something blue is thought lucky because blue represents fidelity and constancy. A sixpence was placed in the brides shoe to bring the couple wealth in their married life.

Flowers have always been a big feature at weddings. The groom is supposed to wear a flower that appears in the bridal bouquet in his button-hole. This stems from the medieval tradition of a Knight wearing his lady's colours, as a declaration of his love. Each flower has its own meaning and can display a special message.

The wedding cake was originally lots of little wheat cakes that were broken over the bride's head to ensure good luck and fertility. Today's three-tier wedding cake is based on the unusual shape of the spire of Saint Bride's Church in London. Traditionally the newly-weds should make the first cut to signify sharing their life. Every guest than eats a crumb to ensure good luck. And sleeping with a piece under her pillow is said to make a single woman dream of her future husband.

Surfers wedding cake

Image courtesy of http://divineweddingcakes.com

Walking is thought to be the best way of getting to Church, as there's more chance of spotting lucky omens. Seeing a rainbow, having the sun shine on the Bride and meeting a black cat or a chimney sweep are all lucky. Bad omens include seeing a pig, hare or lizard running across the road, or spotting an open grave.

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