Wedding traditions come and go like fashion trends. Just as the “Fit and Flare” style of the 1950s is back on trend, we think a few of these more obscure or extinct wedding traditions could be revived!
Help? Not sure what to do…
My grandmother, Amelia, offered to get me a black cat as a wedding present. I was a little stymied because I’d never heard of this.
She emigrated from Coventry, England, in the British Midlands decades ago.
Is it possible that giving a black cat to the bride is a little known or an extinct wedding tradition?
–Katie in King City, Oregon
P.S., I like cats.
That’s a great question! I am happy to help you! (P.S., I like cats too.)
Wedding traditions come and go—or as is said at the beginning of a particular fashion design competition, “One day, you’re in and the next day, you’re out.” For instance, the garter toss and the bouquet toss traditions are being replaced by the bride giving her toss bouquet to the wedding guests married the longest.
Let me share what I found about the black cat wedding tradition.
Cat-egory 1: Cats & Wedding Traditions
According to the Clay Humane Society’s website, “In Great Britain’s English Midlands, a black cat is the ideal wedding gift; they’re believed to bring good luck and happiness to the bride.”
In Scotland, giving a bride a cat on her wedding day was a wish for her to have good luck. If the cat was black, it was a wish for prosperity as well.
3. At Viking weddings, the bride was given house cats to honor the goddess of love, Freyja. After all, we need to keep the goddess happy to have a happy home.
Why house cats???Freyja’s elegant chariot was drawn by cats.
(They were probably larger cats than the Maine Coons I’ve met.)
Category 2: Traditions to Warm Your Heart…and Maybe the Rest of You
4. Finland is an interesting nation: There are more saunas than there are cars. According to some, the Finns consider a sauna a necessity right up there with rye bread and partying during the all-too-short summer.
Until the 1800s, it was tradition for the bride to relax in a sauna the night before her wedding. Some brides invited their grooms to join them OR they invited their bridesmaids. Either way, it was an opportunity to release tension after months of planning. Maybe we should bring this tradition back!
5. In Ancient Rome, the bride wore a flame-colored veil to scare off evil spirits and warm up her color palette. (She also placed herbs in her bouquet to ward off bad mojo.)
Category 3: Eat, Drink, and Be Really Merry
6. Among the Teutons, an ancient Germanic people, the couple married when there was a full moon. Every day until the next full moon, the couple relaxed together and drank honey wine.
If you wondered where the term, “honey moon” originates, now you know! (Couples today often relax with their favorite libations during their honeymoon.)
7. When food was boar-ing: In Medieval Europe, the wedding feast often included a roasted boar’s head, mallard ducks, woodcocks, pheasants, and partridges.
(No, not the Partridge Family…)
And now for the “fun” part: The cooks would carefully reattach the feathers in the right places so you knew what kind of bird this was and you didn’t have to ask.
Category 4: Furnishing the New Abode
8. In the 1800s in Scotland, records reveal that it was customary for the newlyweds to go thrifting to furnish their new abode. Where they went thrifting was the unusual part: They went to the houses of their neighbors. Called “thrigging,” the young couple would traipse door-to-door to select a piece of furniture or household décor from each neighbor. Thrigging might have been easier than creating a wedding registry.
If you have any further questions, please let me know. I’m happy to help you!
Your friend in the wedding business,
Images of Millie the cat (first two photos) courtesy of The Shynes at Ainsworth House & Gardens.
Other images courtesy of Ainsworth House & Gardens, Pexels.com and Pixabay.com.
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