We’ve all heard the rhyme: “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” This old poem dates back to Victorian England and each item represents a good luck charm for the bride. There is actually a last line that goes with it as well: “And a silver sixpence in her shoe.” Traditions, symbolism and even a touch of superstition add meaning, beauty, and enjoyment to all occasions. It’s certainly fun to adhere to this one.
Here is the meaning of this old chestnut:
The ‘something old’ symbolizes a connection to the past. The bride can carry or wear anything that was not purchased for the wedding. Many choose to wear something from their mother or grandmother, such as a piece of jewelry.
‘Something new’ represents hope for the new life that awaits the bride and groom. That’s an easy one to fulfill.
‘Something borrowed’ represents good fortune. The bride should borrow from a good friend or family member, whose life is happy, in the hopes that their happiness will rub off on the bride and groom.
And blue has long been connected to weddings. In ancient Rome brides wore blue to symbolize love, modesty and fidelity. You will see the Virgin Mary dressed in blue in most paintings, symbolizing purity. And until the late 19th century blue was the popular color for wedding gowns, not white
The sixpence in the bride’s shoe represents the hope of wealth and financial security. This may actually be a Scottish custom. Placing a coin in one’s shoe for the wedding certainly can’t hurt. Encourage the groom to do the same. At least you’ll have something left after the wedding expenses.
Many traditions have evolved over centuries that can be categorized a superstition, or good luck versus bad luck, while others are religious or cultural traditions.
Here are some explanations of a few other popular secular traditions almost everyone knows and shares:
Covering the bride’s face with a veil is said to protect the bride from bad luck. Another explanation is that is the wedding veil is used to restrain a jealous old-boyfriend from seeing you and possibly ruining your wedding day. And, by the way, the best man is there to protect the groom from bad luck.
Carrying the bride across the threshold of the home is to prevent her from stumbling and bringing bad luck.
Carrying flowers for the wedding is to ward off evil spirits as well.
Throwing confetti originates from the ancient Pagan rite of showering the happy couple with grain to wish them a ‘fruitful’ union. In the Chinese tradition, too, throwing rice or grains symbolizes prosperity and good luck.
After cutting the cake, the newlyweds share a taste by feeding each other. The ancient Romans believed that partaking of the cake together created a magic bonding. The sweetness symbolized the couples’ future happiness as the grain held the promise of a fruitful union. And for gosh sake – don’t push it into each other’s faces.
These are just a few examples of the many traditions and superstitions that stretch back across centuries and continue today. It’s fun to carry on these ties with the past, and even better, when we understand where they came from and what they mean.
Thanks to Michael Straub for the photo.