Tuesday, November 3, 2015

German bridal cup tradition

The legend of the Nurnberg Bridal Cup is centuries old. It is said to have started in Nurnberg, Germany, where a wealthy nobleman lived with his daughter, the Mistress Kunigunde. She fell in love with a young goldsmith who was an ambitious sort. The wealthy nobleman didn't approve of the relationship and he and his daughter were at odds, for her heart was set on the goldsmith and no other for her husband. As a result, one by one she refused many rich suitors who asked for her hand in marriage.

Bridal Cup; Caspar II Beutmüller, Nuremberg; 1619; Germanic National Museum in Nuremberg
  
The daughter's behavior enraged her father and so he had the young goldsmith thrown into the darkest dungeon. His daughter cried and cried, but he would not be swayed by her tears. To the nobleman's dismay, imprisoning the young goldsmith in the dark dungeon did not stay her love for the young man. Her broken heart started to show in her pale pallor which grew worse day by day.


Finally, at his wits end, the nobleman reluctantly came up with a proposal. He said, "If your goldsmith can make a chalice from which two people can drink at the same time without spilling a single drop, I will free him and you shall become his bride."

Handcrafted bridal cups can still be purchased today.
Handcrafted bridal cups can still be purchased today.

Of course when he thought up the challenge, he thought it an impossible task, but the young goldsmith was motivated by love. He mustered all his skill and crafted a masterpiece. He sculpted a young maiden with a smile as beautiful as that of Mistress Kunigunde. The skirt worn by this damsel was hollow and served as one cup. The second was a bucket which the girl carried over head with extended arms. It was crafted to swivel and so two people could drink from the cup without spilling a drop.

The goldsmith met the challenge. He and the nobleman's daughter were joined in marriage and were said to drink from the romantic bridal cup. Today the bridal cup remains a prized wedding tradition with the cup a symbol of good luck, love and faithfulness.

If you like the idea of adding a special cup to your wedding or reception but aren't sure you want to try to navigate drinking from the German bridal cup, the Scottish quaich offers another rich history that can make your day a little more special.


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