Monday, May 21, 2018

4 Wedding Traditions in Mexico

Like every culture, wedding traditions in Mexico have evolved over time with a blend of ancient customs from Mayan and Aztec rituals, Spanish customs, as well as the incorporation of modern wedding trends. While things like food, music, wedding dresses, and such elements of weddings vary from one family to another in Mexican tradition, one thing that holds true − the belief that marriage is a pillar of the family. With that said, for today’s post we’ll look and four special wedding traditions popular in Mexico.

Wedding Arras 13 Gold Coins
Wedding Arras

Wedding Arras – 13 Gold Coins

One unforgettable wedding tradition in Mexico is the giving of 13 gold coins known as wedding arras. The roots of this tradition are actually from a Roman tradition of breaking a silver or gold coin in two and giving half to the bride and the other to the groom. This is to symbolize the finding of middle ground in the marriage union.

In the Mexican wedding tradition, the bride receives the wedding arras from the groom. These 13 gold coins are a symbol of trust – that he trusts his bride with his finances. When the bride accepts, she is essentially promising to live up to that financial trust with careful attention and prudence. This traditional gift is customarily offered in an ornate box or on a gift tray which symbolizes good wishes for prosperity. The 13 gold coins are thought to represent Jesus and his 12 apostles and are presented to the priest at the start of the ceremony to be blessed. He then gives them to the groom, who hands them to the best man who gives them back to the priest near the end of the ceremony. In the end, the coins are given to the groom who then presents them to his new wife.

Wedding Lasso
Unique Mexican Wedding Kit

Godparents Serve as Sponsors

Another special custom practiced in the Mexican wedding tradition includes Godparents (Los Padrinos) who serve as sponsors for different facets of the wedding including things like flowers, the cake, and even the bride’s dress, plus they contribute to the cost of the wedding ceremony. The role for the godmother (madrina) includes carrying a wine glass for the toast, and other roles for godparents can involve a prayer book, guestbook, an embroidered kneeling pillow, and a large loop of rosary beads known as the wedding lasso which is used for another wedding tradition as the godparents place it on the couple after they exchange vows.

What Does the Wedding Lasso Tradition Mean?

The wedding lasso tradition represents unity. The godparents place the lasso or lazo around the necks of the couple in an eight-shape configuration which represents infinity and symbolizes the love that binds the couple as they face the shared responsibility of marriage together. It is laid upon the groom’s shoulders fist, and then intertwined to join him to the bride. The lasso is then worn for the remainder of the service, and once it is taken off is presented to the bride as a keepsake that reminds her she has become the mistress of the groom’s heart and home.
Variations of this tradition can include interlacing orange blossoms with the beads which is thought to represent fertility and happiness. In some families, a double wedding lasso is given by one set of the parents.

Delicious Mexican Wedding Cookies

One last Mexican wedding tradition worth mentioning are Mexican wedding cookies known as polvorones. The ingredients in these cookies are very similar to Russian teacakes, or Italian wedding cookies and are made using flour, butter, sugar and ground nuts. These cookies are also known as Mexican wedding cake cookies but their origins date back to medieval Arab according to food historians. No matter where they originated, they are a special treat at any wedding.

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Monday, May 14, 2018

When Did People Start Engraving Wedding Rings?

Engraving wedding rings dates back almost as far as wedding ring history, which can be traced back about 4800 years ago to Ancient Rome. The first rings were made of leather, bone, or ivory, but then transitioned to something more permanent. The newer version of wedding rings presented to the bride were made of iron, and while we may not consider it a precious metal worthy of a wedding ring, back then it represented strength and permanence. However, as I’ve mentioned before, brides of Ancient Rome actually received a second wedding ring made of gold. This is the ring that was to be worn in public. Along with the introduction of wedding rings, the Romans of the day are also said to be the first to engrave wedding rings.

First Inscriptions of Wedding Rings

Wedding rings evolved and the fede ring design of two clasping hands became popular, but within the Byzantine Empire in the Middle Ages, inscribing images of the couple became a popular practice. Once Christianity became the state religion, rings often depicted Jesus or the cross between the couple which was thought to bless the marriage. In the second half of the Middle Ages, poesy rings became popular, a popularity which stretched from the 5th to 15th century. Engraved rings designed during Medieval times tended to have words engraved on the outside of the band. Latter on, rings sported lettering inside the band.

Common Sayings on Wedding Rings Historically

Rings for the Finger
The original inscriptions found on wedding rings let people dictate what saying to have inscribed, just like we do today. This allowed people to make their rings personal. However, the Victoria & Albert Museum has determined that certain inscriptions appear on multiple rings. It is thought that the goldsmiths probably had a list or book of “stock” phrases that customers could choose from. A 1917 book titled Rings for the Finger by George Kunz includes phrases and words from back then that show words like “honey” and simple phrases like “joy without end” were used, or more elaborate Greek lettering rendered “To her who excels not only in virtue and prudence, but also in wisdom.”

Ideas for Engraving Your Wedding Ring

You can find plenty of ideas for inspiration when it comes to engraving wedding rings. Today Bible verses are a popular choice for engraving wedding rings, but some couples choose funny sayings, or something that has personal meaning for the two of them. Some people choose to include the date of the wedding followed by words like “forever begins.” On a practical level, I have to say, that’s one way you won’t forget your anniversary date. Plus engraving your ring makes it easier to identify if it should happen to become lost or stolen.

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Photo credits: Wikimedia

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

6 Scottish Wedding Traditions You Can Make Your Own

Thinking of planning a Scottish themed wedding? Whether you want to celebrate your Scottish heritage or just want to add a Celtic flair to your wedding, you will find a wealth of Scottish wedding traditions available . Before I get into some of these customs, I have to mention that one tradition historically practiced was a “trial wedding.” This was still a ceremony and was formalized by handfasting, but this trial marriage lasted for one year and a day. When it “expired” the couple chose to get married or to separate. Children produced during this time were considered legitimate, and really it was considered a way to determine the bride’s fertility. Today, many Scottish wedding traditions have evolved to suit modern times. Here are a 6 wedding traditions you can adapt for your own wedding.

The Caim is a prayer of protection for the marriage.

Caim: Prayer of Protection

The caim is a prayer said while the bride and groom stand in a sacred circle at the altar. The purpose of this prayer is protection of the bride and groom at the time of marriage and the circle is thought to symbolize unity, community and a connection to the greater universe. Historically this circle was drawn by a sword or lance around the couple. 

Today, the tradition of cutting the circle has vanished, but the prayer remains and is said as the couple draws a circle around themselves. These caims follow a certain rhyme and meter which gives  the ceremony a more revered feeling. Today’s brides and grooms can create their own prayer just like they write their own wedding vows to make their wedding ceremony more meaningful or can choose a historic celtic prayer if they want to hold on to that historic element.

Oathing Stone

The ancient Celtic tradition of the oathing stone is tied to the origins of the wedding vow. Back then the Celts were tribal people and closely connected to the spirit of the place where they lived. As a result, important vows were made in very precise places and were considered sacred because they believed certain ancestral spirits were associated with these places. This connection was a critical element for gaining a blessing on any new venture including marriage. 

The oathing stone was held by the officiant and represented a way to link the couple with the land as well as those ancestral blessings like a bridge as they said their vows. Today, couples decorate small stones by etching or painting the bride’s and groom’s names or initials or the date of their wedding on the stone. It is thought to root the couple’s future in the wisdom of the past at the beginning of their life together. Then the stone is thrown into a lake or the sea, or can be reverentially placed in a place special to the couple.

Scottish Handfasting Tartan

Handfasting is the Scottish tradition with a couple of meanings. It was used as a way to show an intent to marry (engagement) and part of a betrothal ceremony. But in this case, if the couple had sex following a handfasting ceremony, they were considered married rather than just engaged. As part of the actual wedding ceremony, this tradition of handfasting can also be traced back to the 1500s as part of the Celtic tradition. During this ceremony the guests circled around the bride and groom as they made their vows to one another, and as they did, their hands were gently fastened together using a cord or strip of cloth (preferably a tartan).

3 Other Scottish Wedding Traditions

Standard Kells Pewter Quaich

  • The bride and groom exchange their vows outside the church doors before going inside for the rest of the ceremony.
  • Drinking from the quaich, a two-handled ‘loving cup.’ The couple also drinks from this cup when taking communion together and then they drink from it together during the first toast as a married couple. It represents the couple’s united lives.
  • Throwing of wedding confetti. Today Scottish wedding confetti can consist of paper colored like Tartan plaid and includes shapes like shamrocks.

For those who want to learn even more about Scottish wedding customs, the groom can wear a kilt, you can pin tartans after vows are exchanged, and include bagpipe music. If you have more ideas, I’d love to hear them.

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Photo credits: pixabay

Monday, April 30, 2018

Scottish Engagement Ring and Other Traditions

In earlier posts I’ve talked about how the wedding engagement ring tradition can be traced back to ancient Romans and even further back to the book of Genesis when rings where given as pledges. Today, we are only going to look back as far as the Middle Ages, when the Scots started their own wedding engagement tradition of giving a fede ring. But unlike today’s practices, these silver Scottish engagement rings weren’t given to the bride-to-be, but instead was handed over to church (kirk)  when making arrangements for proclaiming the marriage. Along with the fede ring, the Scots practiced two other engagement traditions: the giving of the Luckenbooth Brooch and Claddagh Ring.

Fede Ring

Fede Ring

The design of the silver fede ring included two hands which met in a clasp representing friendship, love or betrothal. This design is also historically thought to date back to ancient Rome or before.

Luckenbooth Brooch

The Lukenbooth brooch tradition dates back to the early 1700s when silver and gold smiths sold merchandise in an open market along the Royal Mile, next to to Edinburgh Castle. At this time, open-market stalls were swapped for booths that could be locked after closing, and this is where the name luckenbooth (locked booth) comes from.

The jewelers crafted these brooches with designs including intertwining hearts beneath a crown which symbolized Mary Queen of Scots. Even the hearts often were shaped to create an “M” after the fashion of the Queen’s monogram.
Luckenbooth Brooch

Another wedding tradition included having these brooches engraved with a pledge of love. After the wedding, the bride often tucked the brooch away as a special keepsake. When the union was blessed with a first child, the brooch was pinned to the christening gown or blanket. Then it was tucked away until that firstborn’s own betrothal.

For those in America, an interesting twist on this tradition took place in the 18th century when the Iroquois Indians of North America traded for Luckenbooth brooches!

Today the giving of a Luckenbooth brooch as a token of betrothal is still considered one of the most romantic symbols of love.

Claddagh Ring

The Claddagh ring was also worn as an engagement ring. In fact, depending on how you wear the Claddagh ring it has different meanings including friendship, betrothal, or marriage. This ring design includes hands meeting (friendship) clasping a heart (love), topped with a crown which represents loyalty. Today this is probably the most popular traditional betrothal gifts exchanged as a token of unfailing love.

Claddagh Ring

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Wedding Flowers and the Superstitions Tied to Them

Wedding traditions are often rooted in superstition. Believe it or not, this even includes wedding flowers. In fact, wedding superstitions linked to flowers can be traced back to ancient Rome, ancient Greece, Asia, and elsewhere around the globe. While some ancient cultures didn’t actually carry or use flowers exactly like we do today, the plants they chose to incorporate in the wedding can be traced back as the precursor of the wedding flowers we have today. Of course, we don’t believe the superstitions they held back then, but isn’t it fun to know where some wedding traditions got started and why?

Wedding Superstitions Associated with Flowers

Among wedding superstitions these are associated with flowers.

  • In ancient Rome, brides carried a bouquet of herbs which symbolized faithfulness and fertility. They believed it warded off evil spirits.
  • In ancient Greece, brides carried ivy, which actually has a history of being a plant of superstition. For instance, ivy growing against the side of a house was believed to keep witches away. The ancient Greeks thought that it prevented drunkenness, and when the bride carried ivy at her weddings it was thought to be a symbol of never-ending love for her spouse.
  • In Victorian times, the bride tossed her wedding bouquet to a friend as she left the celebrations. This practice is still pretty commonplace today, but back then it was thought to keep that friend safe because it warded off evil spirits and brought her luck. This evolved into a tradition of its own as it came to mean that the single woman who caught the bouquet would be next to marry.
    Merigolds were eaten because they were thought to be aphrodisiacs!
  • Brides actually ate the flowers they carried in Tudor England. They traditionally carried marigolds dipped in rosewater which ranged in flavors from spicy or peppery to bitter. The reason they ate them? They were thought to be aphrodisiacs!
  • In the Middle East tradition, a bitter herb called artemisia is included in the bridal bouquet to make certain that marriages will survive the bitter times as well as harmonious times.
  • In Asia, the mothers of brides and grooms in Thailand drape Thai wedding flower garlands around the couple’s shoulders as a wish for good fortune in the life together.
  • In South Asia, at the end of Indian wedding ceremonies, the groom’s brother sprinkles flower petals over the newly married couple to protect them from evil.
     A white rose represents purity.

Wedding Flowers Meaning
In the Victorian era, people were also fascinated by “meanings” of different flowers. This is the time when the idea that the meaning of the rose represented true love became popular. Since then, the rose is a favorite wedding flower, but the meaning has evolved to depend on the flower's color with a white rose representing purity and a pink rose signifying joy.

Crowns of orange blossoms traditionally worn by the bride and groom in a Greek Orthodox wedding were thought to symbolize virginity and purity.

Today various popular wedding flowers are thought to have different meanings. For instance, just the flowers that grow in my front garden include the daffodil which represents new beginnings, the hydrangea which means to consider, and the iris which represents perseverance. Just think, if your creative, your floral arrangements can tell a story all their own on your wedding day!

Photo credits: pixabay, pixabay, Wikimedia

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Irish Lace Wedding Traditions

Many Irish wedding traditions have ancient roots often tied to nature and originated in folklore and/or steeped in superstition. They’ve been passed down from one generation to another and are still practiced by Irish couples around the world and are now often embraced by others who love nature, or who want to incorporate ancient traditions in their wedding ceremony. One tradition not really linked to nature or superstition is Irish lace. This is a wedding tradition that dates back to the potato blight of Ireland and an act of kindness to help the poor of Ireland.
History of Irish Lace
Irish lace is a special Irish wedding tradition rooted in an act of kindness that took place at a time when many in Ireland were dying because of the potato blight of the 1800s. At the time, many poor families lived in tiny thatched cottages on land called crofts and they were so poor they had little money for necessities. In 1829 a school in Limerick was started to teach lace making; but when the potato blight hit (1845-1851) thousands of families starved. Ursuline nuns who were acquainted with Venetian lace started teaching women the fine art of crocheting what later became known as Irish lace. This lace was sold to more affluent families and the money was used to help the poor. Families created their own designs and motifs and passed the pattern on from mother to daughter. The details were kept so secret that some of Irish lace patterns disappeared over time when families died out or fled the country to live elsewhere. Today, including Irish lace in the wedding in some way has become a popular tradition all its own. 

Four Ways to Include Irish Lace in your Wedding

  • Wedding Handkerchief: The bride carrying a handkerchief is a tradition in itself which some historians say dates back to 1000 B.C. Irish lace wedding handkerchiefs make a beautiful keepsake for the bride and are often given as gifts to the bridal party as well as the parents of the bride and groom. In some families, the  wedding handkerchief is handed down from mother to daughter.
  • Irish Wedding Garter: Irish wedding garters decorated with lace, shamrocks, Claddaugh charms and other popular Irish themes are another way to include Irish lace in your wedding tradition.
    Irish Wedding Garter with Claddaugh Charm

  • Irish Lace Wedding Dress: Irish lace is still a popular choice for modern wedding dresses, too. Irish inspired wedding dresses can be found in vintage styles as well as modern patterns like mermaid wedding dresses, as well as maxi or short length wedding dresses.
  • Irish Lace Streamers on Bridal Bouquet: Traditionally Irish brides carry a bridal bouquet of wildflowers or wear a wildflower wreath instead of a veil. Adding Irish lace streamers to the bouquet is a traditionally beautiful trend.

Some links in this post are affiliate links. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliate sites.

Thanks so much for being part of our success.
Photo credits: pixabay, Wikimedia

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Wedding Invitations: Evolution from Town Crier to Paperless

Have you ever wondered how wedding invitations were handled before the invention of the printing press? In Medieval England, the town crier or bellman was in charge of passing on all the latest news, proclamations and other important information. This included wedding invitations! In this day when we need a count of how many people are attending, can you imagine wedding invitations delivered to the general public like this? In those days, everyone who heard the announcement was basically invited.

Oral Wedding Invitations

Wedding invitations delivered by the town crier were accompanied by the ringing of a loud hand bell in order to draw attention to the message being delivered. The message started with “Oyez” (pronounced oh yay) which is derived from the French ouïr (to listen). It basically means, “here this.” He announced the names of the bride and groom along with the time and date of the wedding. As long as you were not among those shunned by the family, if you heard the announcement, you were invited to the wedding. However, such announcements were reserved for important weddings among nobility and aristocracy, not everyday commoners. Common people had to just trust word of mouth to get the invitations out.

Hand Penned Wedding Invitations

During the Middle Ages, some of these well-to-do couples commissioned monks to hand pen their invitations using their expertise in calligraphy. Such invitations were elaborate and hand delivered, and those who received them were most likely able to read.

Evolution of the Wedding Invitations in the Newspaper

Once Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1447, the town crier’s responsibilities gradually changed with the advent of newspapers, and it became commonplace to place wedding invitations in the local newspaper. In the mid-1600s, engraved wedding invitations came on the scene. These were similar to wedding invitations today. By the Victorian-age, these wedding invitations were commonly used in America, but because of the unreliability of the postal system of the day they were often hand delivered until the early 1900s. Even then, a double envelope system was used to ensure the invitation would arrive without being spoiled reroute. Today the double envelope system is still commonly used but now it's more a matter of tradition.

Commercially printed wedding invitations came into vogue in the 1950s making wedding invitations more affordable for everyone. Today, the use of letterpress is popular, as well as digital printing, with several outlets making wedding invitations convenient to personalize and buy online.

Affordable Wedding Invitations Online

The following online venues offer a vast selection of affordable wedding invitations:

Photo credits: pixabay, Wikimedia, pexels