Old, Blue, Borrowed & New

A Bridal Superstition Turned into a Beautiful Tradition

“Something old, something new;

something borrowed, something blue;

And a silver sixpence in her shoe.”

– Author Unknown

Have you ever wondered why, to this day, women recall this bridal rhyme and follow it on their wedding day?  I remember my grandmother saying it to my sister a few weeks before she got married. She opened her hand and in the center of her palm was a silver sixpence. In a soft Scottish burr, she said, “Awk now Judy, remember, you must have something old, something new, something borrowed something blue, and I have the sixpence for your shoe, now.”  A month before Becca got married, I too recalled the bridal poem and made sure Becca had the required five items.  My family, my friends, and women around the world observed this tradition.  Why? So I started to research.

It began as a superstition dating back to the 19th century in Lancastershire, England. No one knows who wrote these verses, yet there is the oldest written reference to this bridal rhyme in the  April- September 1871 archive issue of the St. James Magazine. The article titled, Marriage Superstitions and the Miseries of the Bride Elect was a fascinating read! The author complained about her aunts with their long list of various bridal superstitions. So many in fact,  it wreaked havoc on the wedding planning.

“Such a fuss about my clothes; such a big discussion in which all my own ideas and opinions are silenced in the most ignominious manner. Black silk! Black velvet in a trousseau! Impossible! They say, with upturned eyes and voices up to screaming pitch. On the wedding day, I must “wear something new, something borrowed, something blue.” The first is easy enough, a matter of course. The second is not difficult, as so many dear devoted friends are so charmed to have a finger in the wedding pie, by doing the uncle business, lending (but without interest).  For the blue, there is only one resource, as one has to be draped in virgin white, and therefore, “Honi soi qui mal y pense.” ( Translation: French phrase which means, “Shame on the one who sees something bad [or evil] in it.”

Yes, for her, that one superstition was easy to comply with but the other unfounded wives tales she recounted threw her over the edge!

“On such a day marry not, and on such a day wed.”

“Marry in Lent, and you’ll live to repent.”

“The girls are all stark naught that wed in May.”

“No, child, if it please God, shall not go into join-hand on Christmas Day.”

Reading the magazine article was a hoot! I highly encourage you to read it for yourself. Even in 1871, wedding planning had its stressful challenges! But back to my original question. Why did this superstition endure? In my opinion, it was two-fold. One, it was a bonding experience for women. A right of passage that a woman could impart lovingly onto another. Two, this one superstition posed no threats to the bride, making it easy to evolve into a beautiful bridal tradition because of the positive symbolic meanings behind those verses.

Something old symbolized continuity.

Something new offers optimism for the future.

Something borrowed represents a transference of luck and happiness onto the new bride’s relationship.

Something blue stands for purity, love, and fidelity.

And a sixpence in her shoe prosperity for the new couple.

You can ask any married woman, did she honor the bridal rhyme on her wedding day, and more times then not, she will say yes. Once a superstition now a well honored bridal tradition. So, gather your gal friends, make a pot of tea, and click on the above links, have fun finding those five tokens of love for your wedding day!

Written by Peg Kunz

December 23, 2018

Old, Blue, Borrowed & New

A Bridal Superstition Turned into a Beautiful Tradition

“Something old, something new;

something borrowed, something blue;

And a silver sixpence in her shoe.”

– Author Unknown

Have you ever wondered why, to this day, women recall this bridal rhyme and follow it on their wedding day?  I remember my grandmother saying it to my sister a few weeks before she got married. She opened her hand and in the center of her palm was a silver sixpence. In a soft Scottish burr, she said, “Awk now Judy, remember, you must have something old, something new, something borrowed something blue, and I have the sixpence for your shoe, now.”  A month before Becca got married, I too recalled the bridal poem and made sure Becca had the required five items.  My family, my friends, and women around the world observed this tradition.  Why? So I started to research.

It began as a superstition dating back to the 19th century in Lancastershire, England. No one knows who wrote these verses, yet there is the oldest written reference to this bridal rhyme in the  April- September 1871 archive issue of the St. James Magazine. The article titled, Marriage Superstitions and the Miseries of the Bride Elect was a fascinating read! The author complained about her aunts with their long list of various bridal superstitions. So many in fact,  it wreaked havoc on the wedding planning.

“Such a fuss about my clothes; such a big discussion in which all my own ideas and opinions are silenced in the most ignominious manner. Black silk! Black velvet in a trousseau! Impossible! They say, with upturned eyes and voices up to screaming pitch. On the wedding day, I must “wear something new, something borrowed, something blue.” The first is easy enough, a matter of course. The second is not difficult, as so many dear devoted friends are so charmed to have a finger in the wedding pie, by doing the uncle business, lending (but without interest).  For the blue, there is only one resource, as one has to be draped in virgin white, and therefore, “Honi soi qui mal y pense.” ( Translation: French phrase which means, “Shame on the one who sees something bad [or evil] in it.”

Yes, for her, that one superstition was easy to comply with but the other unfounded wives tales she recounted threw her over the edge!

“On such a day marry not, and on such a day wed.”

“Marry in Lent, and you’ll live to repent.”

“The girls are all stark naught that wed in May.”

“No, child, if it please God, shall not go into join-hand on Christmas Day.”

Reading the magazine article was a hoot! I highly encourage you to read it for yourself. Even in 1871, wedding planning had its stressful challenges! But back to my original question. Why did this superstition endure? In my opinion, it was two-fold. One, it was a bonding experience for women. A right of passage that a woman could impart lovingly onto another. Two, this one superstition posed no threats to the bride, making it easy to evolve into a beautiful bridal tradition because of the positive symbolic meanings behind those verses.

Something old symbolized continuity.

Something new offers optimism for the future.

Something borrowed represents a transference of luck and happiness onto the new bride’s relationship.

Something blue stands for purity, love, and fidelity.

And a sixpence in her shoe prosperity for the new couple.

You can ask any married woman, did she honor the bridal rhyme on her wedding day, and more times then not, she will say yes. Once a superstition now a well honored bridal tradition. So, gather your gal friends, make a pot of tea, and click on the above links, have fun finding those five tokens of love for your wedding day!

Written by Peg Kunz

Brides

@SweetWilliamsphotography

Find me on the 'gram