Groomsmen's Blog

When in Rome - Ancient Wedding Traditions

Posted on Jan 30, 2013. 0 comments

When in Rome - Ancient Wedding Traditions

They say ïwhen in Rome, do as the Romans do,Í and weÍre all for that, especially when it comes to eating gelato and watching gladiators battle each other. But, when it comes to wedding rituals, weÍre not so sure that we want to mimic some of the unusual goings-on that took place before, during, and after the marriage ceremony in this ancient civilization. It seems like every culture has its strange wedding customs, and here are the weirdest I found for the ancient Romans.

Got Guts? You might consult your friends, a pastor or your long-term ñlife planî to decide on the best time to get married. If youÍre really ñout there,î you might even have your palm read or visit an astrologer. Heck, even our pocket watch compass combo could point you in the right direction and get you there on time. However, the ancient Romans went about things a little differently, studying a pigÍs entrails to figure out the best day to wed. In the south, weÍd just throw the entrails on the grill and call them chitterlings. Okay, maybe thatÍs just as weird.

Ready to Rumble! A tradition that still stands today, Roman grooms would always stand at the altar with the bride positioned to the left of him. Why? Well, this stance was taken so that the groomÍs right (and usually dominant) hand would be free and available to fight off suitors. WeÍre wondering if he was holding an all-out sword at his side or did he carry a more discrete weapon, perhaps something like one of our pocket knives. Those ancient dudes are crazy, especially if the bride is some sort of goddess. IÍd hook up all the men in the party with their own knives (give ïem as groomsmen gifts) to make sure they had my back.

ThatÍs Nuts! After the bride and groom finished the marriage ceremony and then feasted with guests over dinner, a procession escorted the bride from her childhood home to her new husbandÍs home. Upon arrival at the brideÍs house, the groom acted out ñtakingî the bride from her motherÍs arms with faux force. Then to celebrate the walk back to his house, people in the procession would throw nuts at the newlyweds in the same way we through rice today. In some ways, I think throwing nuts is awesome, so much more edible than raw rice, especially if a hammer or nutcracker has been presented as a groom gift. But, what kind of nuts are we talking about here? An unshelled walnut or Brazil nut could knock a guy out, especially if thrown by one of the brideÍs spurned suitors.

Out Damn Knot! After the procession, the bride was escorted to the marriage bed and the new husband and wife were alone for perhaps the first time ever. Before the vows could be consummated, the man would have to untie a very elaborate knot on a rope that was securely fastened around the waist of the brideÍs wedding tunic by her mother. Ancient Romans called this the ñKnot of Hercules;î think of this as less intrusive version of a chastity belt that was only to be unknotted by the groom. Forget about unhooking bras, weÍre sure the nervous groom must have been praying for a mother-in-law that didnÍt have Herculean strength. In your situation, hopefully one of the groomsmen gifts (like a personalized flask) was offered by one of the guys to the brideÍs mother to create a diversion from her rope-tying skills.

In the comments below, tell us the strangest ritual youÍve seen at a wedding, from the mildly weird to the all-out wacky.

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