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It’s June and that means wedding season is in high gear. For many of us, save-the-dates and wedding invitations have made their way to our mailboxes. The cadence of shopping, planning, traveling, toasting, celebrating, dancing, and drinking has just begun. While our heads spin with those inevitable years when everyone seems to be getting hitched around the same time, making it difficult to simply enjoy a celebration, it is fun to witness familiar traditions, sometimes reinvented for modern brides.
We talk a lot about traditions here at Modigliani because they mean so much to Italians. For Americans, traditions more often come from something started in our own families, whereas Italian traditions are steeped in religion, history, culture, and even superstition. And many incorporate symbolic meanings. Weddings are a great example where superstition and symbolism are significant in Italian traditions. While today’s modern Italian bride may not carry over many of these traditions, there are some that remain.
Grooms used to be the ones that selected and paid for the bridal bouquet as a final gift for his beloved and would often present it to her at the church. Today the bride likely selects the bouquet, but they may still continue with the tradition of the groom presenting it to her as a gesture of love.
Small but meaningful actions to bring luck and abundance to the couple were prominent in the past. Brides used to wear something green the night before the wedding for good luck and grooms were known to carry a piece of iron in their pockets to ward off evil spirits. The bride would never wear anything gold on her wedding day, other than her wedding ring, as that too would bring bad luck.
While in the U.S. we say it’s bad luck for the groom to see the bride in her dress before the wedding, in parts of Italy it was seen as bad luck for the bride to see her own reflection in the mirror. If she really wanted to see herself in her gown, she would have to remove a shoe or glove before gazing in her mirror. And in some cases, a bride would even rip her veil for good luck.
Speaking of shoe removal, the tradition of the groom removing the brides garter is also a tradition in Italy. However, if the bride did not wear a garter, one of her shoes would be removed and tossed to the crowd for luck instead.
Another tradition that has mostly gone the wayside is the cutting up of the groom’s tie. Once destroyed, the pieces would then be passed to guests in exchange for money.
And one tradition that has been mostly upheld is the carrying of la borsa, or satin bag, by the bride during the reception. The purpose is for guests to place envelopes of money into the bag to help pay for the wedding and the couple’s new life together.
The giving of bomboniera is also something that continues. These are small pouches or boxes of candy coated Jordan almonds meant to symbolize the bittersweetness of marriage. Each pouch must contain an odd number, usually 5 or 7, which are considered lucky numbers.
During the reception, there is a dance called La Tarantella, or the tarantula, which again, is how guests wish the couple good luck. Participants stand in a circle surrounding the couple while holding hands and moving in a clockwise direction. As the music plays, it eventually kicks up tempo which signals reversing the direction and repeating until everyone collapses together at the end – very popular even today.
There are a number of other traditions that Italians across various regions have upheld over the years or have modernized for today’s world, but the importance of celebration and bringing luck and love to the couple continues in a myriad of ways.
One thing that never changes is marking the occasion by showering gifts on the happy couple. If you’re a bride-to-be or buying for one, Modigliani offers a gift registry for unique items anyone would love. Starting a new life together with beautiful, handmade Italian dinnerware is perfect. Preparing meals and hosting dinners for family and friends is something many look forward to as a new couple. Let us help make that experience even greater with the art and artistry of our distinctive ceramic dishware, flatware, and one of a kind pieces.
And to all the soon to be and recent newlyweds, buona fortuna e auguri (good luck and best wishes)!
Register with our Gift Registry today!
Bride and Groom: iStock Photo Credit: Hreni
Wedding Favors: iStock Photo Credit: budrio