Friday, June 29, 2012

pretty maids

Remember that game of Old Maid? I used to cry every time I played it when I was younger and ended up with the Old Maid. Anyway... for some reason, it made me think of Wedding bridesmaids- who are usually young (eligible) women of marriageable age either close friends of the bride or the bride's sister. I used my trusty old friend Mr Google to find out the origins of Bridesmaids and Maidens of Honour -

 The Western bridesmaid tradition is thought to have originated from Roman Law, which required ten witnesses at a wedding in order to outsmart evil spirits (believed to attend marriage ceremonies) by dressing in identical clothing to the bride and groom, so that the evil spirits would not know who was getting married. Even as late as 19th century England, there was a belief that ill-wishers could administer curses and taint the wedding. In Victorian wedding photographs, for example, the bride and groom are frequently dressed in the same fashion as other members of the bridal party.
For this reason - the saying "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride"(applied to a bridesmaid who has never got around to being married) has it's roots in the idea that the evil spirits that were out to harm the bride - had successfuly cursed the bridesmaid instead.
 Bridesmaids seem to date from Anglo Saxon times, among whom, as Strutt informs us, "the bride was led by a matron, who was called the bride's-woman, followed by a company of young maidens who were called the bride's maids.
And as for the groomsmen -
In these days the bridesmaid's duties are confined solely to the bride, but the whole function, past and present masculine as well as feminine, has its origin in the sympathetic instinct; although, in the case of groomsmen, there are writers who can trace an origin in the notion of defending the bridegroom against a rival who might carry off the bride. 
Anyway, enough of that history lesson... Here are some of the cards that I made to give to my bridesmaids -  I painted some brown envelopes with copper and bronze paint and gave each bridesmaid a little bracelet -

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Melissa said...

Here's hoping I haven't been unwittingly cursed ... This is really interesting - great to find out the origins of all these wedding traditions that we just see as normal!

the Warr said...

In ancient Babylon, it was custom for the father-of-the-bride to present his son-in-law with a month’s supply of mead – a drink made from fermented honey. Because the Babylonian calendar was based on the moon, the time of the month the son-in-law got his free mead was called the "honey-month" which is now known as the "honeymoon"

keketso Makape said...

Absolutely LOVE hearing where these traditions come from. Thanks for the history lesson :)

GeeGee said...

ohhh that's a good factoid. I wonder if anywhere still does that?
In France, it's traditional to for immediate family and close friends to visit the bride and grooms chamber half way through the evening (where they'd snuck off to maybe 45 mins before) and 'check' that the bride was happy and groom had done his duty to make her happy! It scarred my poor (English) mother a lot when she attended her French friends wedding. She also mentioned that this group also passed around a new chamber pot filled with champagne to toast the grooms virility.