So I venture forth on the subject of death, many people jokingly say and at times legitimately believe that marriage is death to one's individuality, their freedom, and even their identity. In that logic marriage is in fact death, making weddings parallel to funerals. Aren't we a twisted lot.
Victorians were highly superstitious, as were those who came before them. Superstitions have indeed evolved over time, enhancing the initial fears of their origins. Many superstitions we still hold firmly to even in our modern society. The topic of this post is a rather good example of how many of those superstitions have not changed that dramatically over the last 100 years or so.
I digress on this subject of marriage and death; I can always save that for another blog.
As you may know marriages during the Victorian era were usually still arranged, if they were not the permission of one's parents was critical before a young lady could enter into such an engagement and even courtship. I won't bore you with the protocol on such things...I will however now bore you with superstitions related to weddings and marriage!
Woman have fussed over what colours to include in her wedding far longer than men want to even know. Most importantly, the colour of the wedding gown was critical. In this day and age any Bride can tell you that one should always wear white, a symbol of purity. Right...did anyone tell Kim Kardashian that?
During the Victorian era, there were many helpful little rhymes that one could recite to assist in what choices to make. This particular one predicts what will happen in your marriage depending on the colour you wear. Kind of like asking a Magic 8 ball!
Married in White, you have chosen right
Married in Grey, you will go far away
Married in Black, you will wish yourself back
Married in Red, you'd better be dead
Married in Green, ashamed to be seen
Married in Blue, you'll always be true
Married in Pearl, you'll live in a whirl
Married in Yellow, ashamed of the fellow
Married in Brown, you'll live out of town
Married in Pink, your spirit will sink
In case each meaning eludes you, I dearest reader will break it down in modern tongue for you!
White = Atta girl, you've picked Mr. Right!
Grey = Welcome to Abu Dhabi.
Black = If I could turn back time.
Red = Kill me, kill me now.
Green = Now that you're a shut in, here is your official
Membership to the sweat pants club!
Blue = Monogamy, it's a good thing!
Pearl = Eight kids, three dogs, and two cats later, showers
have become a thing of the past.
Yellow = Oh, him? I have no idea who that guy is.
Brown = Farm living is the life for me, land spreadin' our so far and wide
Keep Manhattan; just give me that countryside...
Pink = Little Debbie is your best friend!
Colour of the gown was not the only thing that a Bride was concerned about. In fact, a Bride herself would sew in a little satchel or pouch into her petticoats; inside this pouch she would place a small piece of cloth, a small piece of bread, a sliver of wood, and a single one dollar bill. Each item placed there was to ensure that the couple would always have clothes to wear, food to eat, a roof over their heads and money for the future.
Another little rhyme you may recognize from Victorian London:
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and silver sixpence in her shoe.
Now it is commonly believed that specific items went with each portion of the rhyme, some from particular people in her life. "Something old" was generally a garter given to the new Bride to wear by the wife of a happily married older couple. "Something new" could be any new item of clothing or jewelry for the bride, symbolizing the new start and look toward a happy future. "Something borrowed" was typically a token given to the Bride by her family as a gesture of their good wishes, however it must be returned after the wedding in order for it to bring good luck. "Something blue" was from a long standing tradition associated with the colour blue, which symbolized fidelity and virtue. "Silver sixpence in her shoe" was to bring wealth into the marriage for the future.
Once again, I leave you with a few more common superstitions.
- The Bride is never to eat a crumb of the cake until it has been cut, she must be the first one to cut it or else she will be childless.
- The Bride must always save a small piece of the cake, this ensures fidelity.
- Bad luck upon the marriage, if the Bride bakes her own cake.
- Wedding charms were baked inside of the cake; the cake would then be cut into enough pieces for all guests, only some guests would get a charm. The meaning for each charm is this:
The ring for marriage within a year
The penny for wealth, my dear
The thimble for an old maid or bachelor born
The button for sweethearts all forlorn
-If the Bride looked into the mirror before leaving for the ceremony it would bring good luck. However, if she were to look into the mirror again on the way to the church it would bring bad luck.
-Bad luck upon the marriage if the Groom saw the Bride before the ceremony.
-When the Bride and Bridesmaids entered the church together, good luck would come if any of the following crossed their paths, indicating a happy and smooth marriage: a rainbow, lambs, black cat, spiders, and toads. The luckiest would be to encounter a chimney sweep, especially if he gave her a kiss upon the cheek.