When it comes to weddings and brides, each culture has a different tradition. In western countries, for example, people wear traditional white dresses. In India – brides wear pink or red wedding dresses. As for the Muslim brides, they wear beautiful veils called hijabs.
Wedding ceremonies have existed in many cultures for centuries, but the Western wedding gown as we know it; white and once-in-a-lifetime extravagant — hasn’t always been the norm for brides. For once, the white wedding gown is a modern invention: It’s only about 180 years old. Here is how the white wedding gown and the veil, bouquet, garter and more wedding traditions came to be.
Why do brides wear white?
You can blame Queen Victoria for the white wedding dress. She wore plain white to marry Prince Albert in 1840, and sparked a trend that’s lasted to this day but, surprisingly, she didn’t wear it to symbolize purity or virginity. She just wore it because, well, she liked white.
in the Arabian and Persian culture, long after the time of Prophet Mohammad (SAW), brides wear whites to signify purity and virginity.
Before Queen Victoria’s history-making royal gown, brides wore any nice dress they had. red was the most popular color for wedding gowns, probably because of all its ‘roses are red’ romantic connotations. The colour white, however, was pretty unattainable for commoners for much of European history, because white was expensive and difficult to keep clean. White wedding gowns were rare and confined to the wealthy, which of course, made them cooler.
For French royals, white was actually the colour of mourning; hence Mary Queen of Scots’ wedding gown faux pas. She caused a scandal when she wore her favorite white gown in 1558 to marry the Dauphin of France, but instead of copying her, people just tutted about her impropriety. When her husband died two years later (after having a hole drilled in his head to relieve an ailment — yeesh), the white wedding dress was accused of cursing him.
Now’s clearly the time to work out why brides wear massive sheets of chiffon on their head.
Why do we wear them? What do they mean? And when did they become a thing that all traditional brides would wear?…….The truth is, no one’s entirely sure.
Veils came into practice at different points in different cultures, and have seen dips and increases in their popularity.. It must be noted the the, Jewish, Arabian, Hindu and Persian culture, the concept of veiling a Bride started long before the Islam and Christianity, therefore it cannot be said that the concept began after Prophet Mohamed (S.W.A).
But here are the main reasons and theories behind a bride’s NEED to wear a veil.
1. Brides wear veils to ward off demons
According to the Romans, when brides were covered from head to toe in a massive red veil called ‘flammeum’.
Why? Because Romans were scared of evil spirits popping into the ceremony to curse the couple. They thought that making it look like the bride was on fire would scare them off. Makes sense. This belief eventually progressed into using the veil to confuse spirits, which makes a bit more sense than the fire thing. The Romans figured that by covering up the bride’s face, the spirit wouldn’t be able to make their attack as they wouldn’t be sure who the bride actually was.
2. Brides wear veils to hide their face
From the ashes of the spirit confusion theory rose a new preference for veils being used to hide the bride’s identity. This was done mostly in the African context- where betrothment was the order of the day. But this time, she wasn’t protecting who she was from spirits – she was trying to keep her face a secret from her groom.
In early weddings when marriages were arranged entirely through fathers, with the bride given away in exchange for money and goods, dads giving away their daughters wanted to hide their face until the last possible minute, so that a less attractive bride wouldn’t spoil the agreement. How sweet.
This eventually got transformed into the ‘cute’ tradition that decrees that men can’t see their bride before the wedding. Romantic, huh?
3. Brides wore veils so they couldn’t run away
In the history of marriage customs in Africa and some part of the word, the institution of marriage was taken on at least three (3) principal forms:
- Marriage by capture
- Marriage by purchase
- Marriage by betrothment
The bride-to-be may be either kidnapped or captured prior to the official wedding ceremony or at some point during. During the wedding festivities, parents of the couple may hide the bride and will release her only after the groom negotiates for, and pays, her bride price.
In Africa, A girl can be betrothed while still a baby. In fact, men of the village will vie to be the one who ties a cowry shell to a girl baby’s wrist when she is born to indicate a teasing kind of betrothal. This betrothal may become a serious one, or another spouse may be considered for the girl. Parents have to approve of their choice of spouse. If a daughter does not go with the man her family has suggested, she cannot expect much help from her family.
Bustle notes that veils and trains were used to weigh down the bride and prevent them from running away when they met their new husband for the first time.
4. Brides wear veils to symbolize their virginity and purity
According to the christian faith, Not only does the bridal veil show the modesty and purity of the bride and her reverence for God, it symbolizes the Temple veil. The removal of the veil took away the separation between God and man, giving believers access into the very presence of God. Since Christian marriage is a picture of the union between Christ and the church, see they another reflection of this relationship in the removal of the bridal veil. Through marriage, the couple now has full access to one another.Veils were used as a symbol of virginity and purity for brides given to their mates.
In Africa, Originally, the bride’s veil symbolized her youth and virginity. Veils helped bride’s remain modest and hide themselves from jealous spirits.
Even today, in Muslim countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Eastern Europe, a young man is bound by constraints of religious modesty to conduct his entire courtship while his bride-to-be remains veiled. He’s not permitted to see her face until after the wedding . . .
5. Brides have their veils lifted as a sign of ownership
Think about it this way: whoever unwraps a present is the owner, right?
So through the ages, tradition has stated that the father of the bride must lower the veil on his daughter’s face, in order to ‘gift’ her to her new husband. Once they’re about to get married, the husband can then lift the veil, symbolizing his new ownership of his bride.
6. Brides wear veils to show that their love is more than skin-deep
If you still want to wear a veil purely for the prettiness factor, don’t stress. There’s another, non-horrifying reason behind the tradition. In the Jewish faith, veils are meant to act as a public display that the groom isn’t just marrying his bride because of how she looks.
He’s basically saying ‘I love you so much, I would marry you even if I can’t see your face.’
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