A Glance of the Ancient Past

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How Contemporary Filipino Wedding Customs Came About

Ancient Greeks believed the third finger was connected directly to the heart through the vein of love.

“With this ring, I thee wed..”subsequently the ring gets right onto the third finger. Or, “Mabuhay ang bagong kasal!” then a shower of rice confetti comes after as the newlyweds come down the aisle. Filipino wedding traditions as these are just some of the customs we inherited from our Spanish colonizers along with the Roman Catholic faith, obviously. Not quite.

It would perhaps come as a surprise that most Filipino wedding traditions originated way back before the birth of the Roman Catholic Church, and some customs carried out to this day have been practiced in the days of the Olympian gods.

Whether in Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, or 21st Century Philippines, one thing is for certain: wedding ceremonies are tightly interlaced with religious rites. Let’s take a look at how they did it then, and what we’re doing now:

The Engagement Ring

Egyptian origin: A custom practiced in Ancient Egypt, the bride price was usually a sum of money or property that the groom offers the bride’s family to ensure the sincerity of his intentions to marry the bride.

“The engagement ring now replaces what used to be the Bride Price that gauges a groom’s sincerity of intention to wed the bride.”

The Bridal Shower

Greek origin: The Greek bride spends a few days before the wedding with her mother, a few female relatives, friends and servants who will help her prepare for her wedding. During this time, the bride makes offerings to various gods to aid her in making the transition into her new life.

The Veil

Greek origin: The veil was the most important component of the bride’s attire. It symbolized the bride’s purity before marriage. The most important part of the wedding ceremony was the unveiling of the bride which is also the part where the bride is handed over to the groom.

Roman origin: The word nuptials itself was derived from nubo , meaning “I veil myself”. The veil was one of the main symbols of a Roman wedding.

The Headpiece

Roman origin: The Roman bride’s hairstyle was unique to brides, the tutulus . It was divided into six locks fastened with fillets on top of her head in a cone. The bride’s hair was parted with a bent iron spearhead, a hasta recurva . It is believed that the Romans did this to drive evil spirits thought to be living in the hair.

The Ring

Greek origin: Ancient Greeks used the third finger as the ring finger because they believed it was connected directly to the heart through a certain “vein of love”.

The Wedding Gown

Roman origin: Like the modern bride, brides of Ancient Rome wear their wedding attire only once.

The Wedding Procession

Greek origin: Honored participants join the procession, as well as the groomsmen and some women with baskets and vases that contained sandals, quinces, roses, violets and fruits, which are pelted on the couple similar to a victory parade of the victorious as they come home from Panhellenic games. Music was provided for by men with musical instruments.

Matron of Honor and Bridesmaids

Greek origin: The Bridal helper was called a numpheutria . She, along with the mother of the bride and other women relatives and friends, help the bride prepare for the wedding meal as well as preside over the sacrifices for the ceremony. The numpheutria also accompanies the bride to the banquet hall.

Sponsors

Roman origin: A required number of witnesses sign the tabulae nuptiales or the marriage contract prepared by the auspex who portrays both priest and best man roles in the ceremony.

The Shower of Rice Confetti

Greek origin: Grains played an important role as the bride walked from her paternal home to her new home for it was in remembrance of Demeter, Goddess of Harvest, which symbolizes good fortune, fertility, and social life.

The Wedding Feast

Roman origin: The Roman wedding feast was called the cena . This wedding breakfast was paid for by the groom. In this feast gifts were given to the bride and groom.

Carrying over the Threshold

Greek origin: The Greek groom lifted his bride from the chariot and into the “threshold” where the groom’s mother awaits to welcome the bride into the new home.

Roman origin: The Roman groom oftentimes carried his bride over the threshold because if the bride tripped over the threshold it was seen as a sign of ill-fortune.

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Kasal.com thanks the following sources for this article:

AbleOne Education Network
Women in the Ancient World
Historical Wedding Traditions
Diamond Timeline and Diamond History Education

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