Old Wives' Tales
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Superstition: The lore and symbolism surrounding weddings and shoes.
Origins: The association between shoes and weddings is an odd one to justify, yet it pops up frequently in the world of superstition.
Old shoes are still thrown after the bridal pair as they leave for their honeymoon. (It is a sign of especial good fortune if the shoe hits either of them.) They are also often to be found tied to the bumper of the honeymoon getaway vehicle.
These customs are said to be hold-overs from the ancient practice of carrying off a bride: the thrown shoe announces that she didn't go without a fight, with the dragged-behind-the-car shoe just a longer-lasting public expression of that. Alternatively, the shoes represent the transfer of authority over her from her father to her husband. At Anglo-Saxon weddings, it was the custom for the father to give one of the girl's shoes to her bridegroom, who then lightly touched her on the head with it.
Shoes thrown at the escaping couple aren't the end of it, though. If the bride (or her principal bridesmaid) stands at the head of the staircase and tosses the right bridal shoe into the crowd of guests assembled at its base, the one who catches it will be the next to marry.
Lastly, a prudent bride slips a gold sovereign in her wedding shoe. By beginning her married life walking on gold, she guarantees the prosperity of her household.
Barbara "drop kick me Jesus through the gold posts of life" Mikkelson
Last updated: 27 June 2005
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