Society learn about the history of weddings

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Members of the Arran Historical Society gained an interesting insight into the customs and history of the wedding when Valerie Reilly presented a talk on the subject at their latest meeting.

Valerie spoke knowledgeably, going back as far as possible to pagan times, when life was difficult and short. In those times the priests were consulted to divine the signs to ensure an auspicious time and traditions were followed to ensure fertility and happiness and to placate the gods.

Today there are lots of Easter weddings despite the old saying, ‘Marry at Lent live to repent’. Another saying, ‘Marry in May and rue the day’ harks back to the past when May was the month for a festival honouring the dead ancestors and was a time for celebrating death rather than life. This is also the month of haymaking when everyone was busy on the farm.

Other practicalities were considered: children born in the early spring or summer ensured the best chances of survival and weddings were often in June as it was lucky – named after Juno, the Roman god of birth and marriage.

The actual day of the wedding itself also played a part in years gone by but might not be as relevant today. Previously it was suggested that marriages took place on Monday for wealth, Tuesday for health, Wednesday best day of all, ‘Thursday for losses, Friday for crosses’ and Saturday no luck at all.

The weather on the day also had significance: a happy bride with sunshine, a tearful bride with rain, a rich bride with snow and a childless bride with thunderstorm.

The last days of single life were celebrated in times before, as it does to this day, with a stag party and a hen party and all the customs associated with these. The honeymoon was originally the honey month when the couple settled at home.

The making of the dress, its colour, the rings, the cake and other traditions have changed over the years. Back in the 18th century the ring was worn on the thumb. Queen Victoria popularised the white dress which continues to today, and was only interrupted by the rationing of the Second World War.

There are also many different types of marriage, dictated by different cultures, beliefs, costs or the need for an heir. Handfast weddings and weddings after the bride was pregnant were common, as were elopements to Gretna Green as laws were stricter in England.

Society members reported the talk by Valerie as being both humorous and factual and also interesting and memorable.

This month’s speaker, who will build on an earlier talk in August of 2017, will be Dr Amanda Simpson who will give a presentation on the history of Ardrossan Castle, building on an earlier talk two years ago, on Monday August 19 at 2pm in Brodick Hall.


Amanda Simpson pictured at Ardrossan Castle will be speaking on Arran next week. NO_B33simpson01