Traditions that originated in Italy
Italian wedding traditions are among the oldest in the world dating back to ancient Roman times. The Roman goddess Juno, guardian of marriage, home and childbirth made June the most popular month for a wedding, a tradition that still holds true today.
Another tradition that originated in medieval Italy is diamond engagement rings, thought to be created by ‘flames of love’ given to a bride from her groom-to-be to symbolize betrothal.
The veil originated in Italy too, symbolizing the bride’s virginity and to disguise her from evil spirits as she headed to the ceremony.
Want to propose Italian Style?
Serenade a poem or sing a song to her like the ancient Italian suitors' did, while you play a portable instrument. Stand below her window (make sure it’s open) and if she throws you a flower you know the answer’s a ‘yes.’
It was customary for the prospective groom (the pretendente) to place a diamond ring on his bride-to-be's finger before the engagement was announced.
With 80 percent of the population in Italy being Catholic they were influenced by old church traditions that dictated the luckiest day to marry was Sunday. It was frowned upon to marry during Lent or Advent and May and August were considered bad luck.
The Morning of the wedding…
Traditionally in the morning before the couple put on their wedding attire they attended church to have communion together and reflect on the wedding ahead, while the family prepared for the upcoming celebration.
Traditionally guests set up obstacles for the couple on the way to the church…
After mass, the couple traditionally walked together to the town square where family and friend’s set-up obstacles like:
The couple had to use a double-handled ripsaw to saw a log in half. This task required teamwork and represented their ability to get along in the marriage.
Other obstacles: a broom on the path to the way to the church: If the bride moved it she would be a good house cleaner.
A disgruntled child: if the bride comforted the child, she would be a good mother.
The night before the wedding the bride-to-be traditionally wore the colour green symbolizing fertility and good luck for the future marriage.
In ancient times a bride wore a veil covering her face on the way to the wedding and carried an herb bouquet to ward off bad luck, evil spirits and ill health.
The bride avoided wearing any gold jewelry on the day of the wedding (even her engagement ring) until after the wedding nuptials, as it was thought to detract from the wedding rings symbolism and vows it represents.
The groom carried a piece of iron in his pocket to ward off the evil eye (malocchio).
Church Service (Sposalizio)
The church door is decorated with ribbons to symbolize the marriage bond.
The custom of a unity candle is a tradition; two smaller candles light one larger candle, representing the individual families joining together as one.
The wedding nuptials took place and afterwards the couple shattered a glass or vase together. The shattered pieces represented how many happy years they would have together. Today this is sometimes preformed at the reception.
As the bride and groom leave the church two white doves are released representing the couples love and happiness.
Eat, drink and be merry at the reception…
As guests arrive they are served a shot of liquor, sweet liquor for the women and strong liquor for the men, for toasting purposes prior to the meal.
Favours of little pottery dishes or glassware filled with bags of almond candies ‘confetti’ are exchanged for monetary gifts at the reception as guests enter.
The meal, sometimes fourteen courses, starts with an antipasto (pickled peppers, squid olives, and prosciutto), soup, followed by pasta, meat and vegetables, fish, salad, fruit and finally white wedding cake (representing purity) filled with cream interior. Wine is served with dinner and espresso (strong coffee) and liquors served with dessert.
Dancing the ‘Tarantella’ or spider dance dates back to medieval times, the dance performed in a circle resembles the frenzy of a spider-bite victim. Another dance, the cookie dance, leads guests to tables filled with cookies where guests help themselves to cookies.
After the reception…
The couple retires to their new house and to a bed that has never been slept in before (brand new bed). The bride is carried over the threshold so waiting evil spirits will miss their last chance to capture the bride.
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