Alexandria, VA – Lyrics from : “A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof, trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn’t easy. You may ask, why do we stay up there if it’s so dangerous? We stay because Anatevka is our home… And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word… Tradition.”
We humans love traditions. Maybe as much as love them, we need them to keep from breaking our necks! And weddings are rich in traditions.
In last month’s column about weddings, I wrote about loving the altar of family photographs and the pageantry of the bride processing down the aisle on the arm of her father to meet the groom. With a bit of research I learned about the origin of the wedding ring and why the month of June is favored for weddings. I wrote about flower girls and ring bearers. As a wedding photographer, I witnessed many beautiful traditions.
One, both beautiful and colorful, is the Indian tradition of garlanding. When the groom garlands his wife, it is believed he bestows half of his spiritual energy on her. And similarly, when the bride garlands the groom, she shares her spiritual energy with him.
The Breaking of the Glass in Jewish wedding tradition is a symbolic prayer and hope that the couple’s love for one another will remain until the pieces of the glass come together again. In other words, that their love will last forever.
The ceremonial jumping of the broom before witnesses has roots in the 1700s. For enslaved African Americans in the mid-19th century, it was as open a declaration that a couple chose to become married as was then allowed.
An old German wedding custom of cutting a log represents the first obstacle that the couple must overcome in their marriage. They work together to overcome the obstacle by sawing through the log.
Tying the knot may refer to a custom in antiquity in which couples were literally tied together in ceremony to signify their spiritual bond. Although today, the knot is a mainly a figurative one, it is still at times a literal one in handfasting ceremonies.
Amanda Casey who facilitates event rentals at Historic Hollin Hall on the grounds of Mount Vernon Unitarian Church added these traditions signifying the joining of two individuals into one couple:
· The Unity Candle where the bride and groom light a single candle from individual flames;
· Unity Sand where the bride and groom have different colored sand they pour into a vase;
· Unity Planting where the couple each brings dirt from their hometowns and re-pot a plant in the dirt;
· Norwegian weddings guests may be served kransekake, a pastry with origins in a horn of plenty;
· And among Christian elements there is the ceremony of Feet Washing and the Cord of Three Strands. In Feet Washing, the groom washes the bride’s feet representing Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. The Cord of Three Strands symbolizes the joining of man, woman, and God into marriage. God taught them to love and by keeping Him at the center of the marriage, His love will continue to bless the marriage. Won’t you share your favorite wedding traditions – write firstname.lastname@example.org
Mosaic Artist/Photographer Nina Tisara is the founder of Living Legends of Alexandria