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From proposing with a ring to exchanging vows in front of our loved ones, we follow a lot of traditions when it comes to getting married.
Practicing such rituals has become second nature to us in the modern age; in fact, we don’t really think about how they came to exist in the first place. Obviously, they aren’t anything new — most of them date back hundreds of years to very different times and cultures. And while they’re all sweet, cute, and fun now, the same can’t exactly be said for them back then.
You’ll probably view weddings a bit differently when you learn these 15 interesting, strange, and even barbaric origins of marriage traditions.
1. In 1215, Pope Innocent III instituted a waiting period between a betrothal and the marriage ceremony, with rings symbolizing a couple’s commitment in the meantime. They also symbolized social status, so only the elite could wear fancy, jeweled rings.
3. In 1840, Queen Victoria wore a white dress at her wedding to Prince Albert — a choice considered pretty unusual at the time. While she wasn’t the first royal to get married in white, she’s been credited for starting the white wedding dress tradition.
5. In Eastern Europe, mock-kidnappings of the bride are traditional. But up until the 18th century, it was a very real practice around the world, in which a man abducted the woman he wanted to marry. Unfortunately, it still happens in countries including Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Chechnya, Armenia, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, and South Africa.
9. In Ancient Rome, bridesmaids wore the same dresses to act as decoys for the bride, who also dressed the same. Happy events such as weddings were believed to attract evil spirits, so the idea was to make it harder for them to be able to tell the women apart.
15. As a wedding gift, ancient Norse newlyweds received a month’s worth of mead from their friends and family. Mead is made from honey and a month is one moon cycle. Pair them and you have the word, “honeymoon.”