Saturday, May 20, 2017

Feet, Shoes and Superstition : Getting married - Stockings, garters and avoiding the Evil Eye

In the North of England, an old custom at the end of the wedding ceremony was for male guests to rush at the bride to the alter and remove her a chivalrous garter, a symbol of her purity. In the panic this usually meant the bride was knocked over and trampled on. Gradually manufacturers made garters easier to detach and finally to avoid threat of injury, brides tossed their garters towards the groom’s men at the end of the ceremony. This custom may also relate to flinging the stocking.

In the past it was common practice in many countries for the wedding couple to be escorted to their wedding chamber by their family and guests. In many cultures the mutual divesting of intimate apparel such as stockings was considered to represent the couple’s sexual commitment to each. This was celebrated by the bride throwing (or flinging) the stockings in the direction of the expectant crowd. This may be the origin of throwing a posy to the brides-maids. Catching the garter (males) and posie (females) is generally taken as a sign of who will be married next.

In pagan times (pre-Christian) people relied on ritual and lucky talisman to bring good fortune. The coming of modern religions like Christianity saw massive inclusion of pagan ritual into new religious ceremonies which was a deliberate attempt by the Church to encourage people to become part of the new religion. The amalgam of the secular (worldly) and religious beliefs is now almost impossible to separate. Bridal wear of today does however, contain remnants of ritual and superstitions although most people are unaware of their meaning. The more common amulets (ornaments) and traditional accents of the bride’s ensemble are known to represent merriment, virginity and abundance. Traditionally brides wore a chivalrous garter (for safety), an heirloom (usually a brooch) meaning innocence, and silver buckles on her shoes (for prosperity). These were lucky talisman to ward off the Evil Eye.

Read more
Getting married: “Something old, something new”
Getting Married: Shoes and Wedding Superstitions

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