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Ancient Wedding Customs I

By Yona Williams    7/13/11

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Some of the wedding customs of today have deep roots in ancient traditions. From the dresses that bridesmaids wore to the meaning of a kiss, you'd be surprised how little has changed from days of ancient civilizations. In this article, you will encounter ancient wedding customs that originate from around the world, including the Italian city of Rome.  

Bridesmaid Dresses

Plenty of women have horror stories about the bridesmaid dress they were forced to wear to their best friend's wedding. Tradition has women fitted for an identical frock that most often pales in comparison to what the bride is wearing. Wearing the same exact outfit different from the bride has interesting roots. In the past, people thought that this tactic would confuse evil spirits that wanted to destroy the happiness of a new bride. Others embraced the custom as a way to prevent the bride from being kidnapped from another suitor.

Tying the Knot

Many people refer to getting married as 'tying the knot.' This expression originates from the tradition of tying the hands of the bride and groom together – something that was observed in many different cultures, such as Hindu, Egyptian and Celtic.

The Receiving Line

In ancient times, it was thought that a new bride and groom brought good luck to those they touched. Therefore, they established the tradition of having a receiving line during a wedding. Today, the receiving line is pretty much a thing of the past, and the newly married couple usually opts to greet their guests during the wedding dinner.

Seal It With a Kiss

The ancient Romans did not believe a marriage was legally binding until they sealed it with a kiss. It was thought that the kiss was a legal bond that sealed all contracts. Today, we often tap on the side of a glass during the wedding dinner to urge newlyweds to kiss.

Ancient Roman Brides

The night before an ancient Roman woman was to get married, she returned her birth locket (called a bulla) to her father and passed on her toy to other family members. She tried on her wedding dress, which was made out of a straight tunic that had been woven out of a single piece of fabric. The dress had to be long enough to reach her feet.

When morning arrived, it was the mother's responsibility to dress the bride on her wedding day. A belt tied around the waist (referred to as the "knot of Hercules") was one of the most important components of the dress. The ancient Romans believed that Hercules was the guardian of wedded life. Only the husband was allowed to untie the knot of the belt. A flame colored veil was placed over the tunic wedding dress that was decorated with a wreath of flowers that the bride gathered on her own.

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