by Kathy Wolfe
June is traditionally the most popular month to marry, with approximately 10.8% of couples wedding this month. This week, Tidbits explores the reasons why, as well as some facts about love and marriage.
• According to the 1954 song “June Bride” from the musical “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”: “Oh, they say when you marry in June, you’re a bride all your life, and the bridegroom who marries in June gets a sweetheart for a wife.”
• The month of June was named for the Roman goddess Juno. Juno was associated with all facets of the lives of women, but especially marriage and childbearing. The ancient Romans believed that couples who married in June would be blessed with happiness and prosperity.
• In U.S. colonial days, Wednesday was considered the luckiest day for weddings, and Friday was shunned as the “hangman’s day.” Sunday was popular because it was the only day people were free from work, but the Puritans of the 1600s turned away from this, considering it improper to be celebratory on the Sabbath. In those early days, only an unmarried woman could be the maid of honor, and only the groom’s brother, best friend, or father could serve as best man.
• The never-ending circle of a wedding ring is a symbol of eternity, since it has no beginning or end. Diamond engagement rings date their origins back to the 15th century when Archduke Maximilian of Austria gifted a diamond to his fiancé Mary of Burgundy in 1477, and the tradition of presenting the brilliant and sparkly gem became tradition. Rings are worn on the fourth finger of the left hand because of an old belief that a vein in that finger leads directly to the heart.
• You’ve heard the rhyme “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” What is the symbolism behind these four things? Something old signifies continuity and stability, while something new represents optimism and good fortune in the couple’s new life together. Something borrowed is a symbol of borrowed happiness from someone who loves you. Wearing a touch of blue is said to bring a bride good fortune, as well as symbolizing love and fidelity.
• The trend of brides wearing a white dress was started by Queen Victoria in 1840 when she wore a white wedding dress to wed Prince Albert. Prior to that, brides just wore their best dress. How about veils? The ancient Greeks and Romans began this tradition because they believed the veil protected the bride from evil spirits. Speaking of evil spirits, the groom carries his bride across the threshold to gallantly protect her from those spirits prowling below.
• Wedding guests have been tossing rice at the newlyweds for centuries. This practice is a symbol of a wish for fertility and prosperity for the happy couple. The ancient Romans used wheat, while the tradition in eastern India is a rain of flower petals. The Polish use rice, but add coins to the ground at the couple’s feet. Environmentally-friendly alternatives include bird seed, dried flowers, or herbs.
• At many Italian weddings, the bride and groom each break a glass. According to legend, the number of shards of glass is equal to the number of happy years the couple will have.
• In ancient times, a dowry was paid to the parents of the bride, usually animals, land, and cash, with the first recorded dowry exchanged in 3,000 B.C. For centuries, wedding gifts from guests wasn’t a common tradition. But in 1924, Macy’s Department Store came up with the idea of a gift registry. Couples picked china patterns, silverware, crystal, linens, and household appliances, registering to inform friends and family of their preferences. Other department stores were quick to jump on the bandwagon, and wedding gifts became the norm.
• In the U.S., the average age of a bride is about 25, while the average for men is about 28 years old. One-third of annual marriages take place between couples with one person having been married previously. Although outdoor weddings and destination weddings are on the rise, about 80% of weddings take place in a church or synagogue. The average number of wedding guests is about 180.
• How do people meet a prospective partner? According to surveys, close to 70% of relationships start from long-term friendships. About 7% meet through their family, while 11% of people meet their marriage partners at church, 40% through friends, while 15% meet at work. 9% meet through events related to their personal interests, such as going to the gym. Just 2% of men form a relationship with someone they meet at a bar, with that statistic at 9% for women. For those who meet at parties, 17%-25% will result in a short-term relationship lasting less than a month, but 8% to 10% will marry.
• What about online dating? According to statistics, one in five relationships begin online and one in six marriages. Those who meet online get married sooner, most likely because a lot of information other couples collect about each other during courtship has already been gathered from the online profile before they actually meet. The majority of those using online dating sites are looking for marriage or a long-term relationship.
• Research also indicates that marriages between those who met online are lasting longer than those who didn’t meet online. Online marriages are less likely to dissolve with the first year of marriage. The site eHarmony claims that their couples’ divorce rate is just 3.86%, compared to the national average of nearly 50%.
• About 1% of relationships are formed through speed dating, a matchmaking event where a lot of single people come together and have quick conversations. The participants are divided into two groups – one group remains seated and the other rotates after each round. A round lasts anywhere between two and 10 minutes, with a typical evening consisting of 5 to 10 rounds. When the bell rings, the participants change and meet someone new. There is a lapse of a few minutes between rounds for people to mark a scorecard, determining an instant attraction or a lack of chemistry.
• Between 1970 and 1990, the number of marriage counselors in the U.S. increased 50-fold.
• A research poll’s results assert that 75% of married couples say they are happy at least three-quarters of the time, while 15% put that figure at half the time. About 5% say they are unhappy all of the time.
• Long-married couples claim the secret to a blissful union is “communication, compromise, cooperation, and compassion.”