Courtship, Wedding and Valentine’s Day Traditions Worldwide
Every February 14th, many celebrate St Valentine’s Day, commemorating romantic love and a celebration day which originated in the High Middle Ages, when the age of courtly love flourished. Courtship and wedding traditions worldwide are both fascinating and diverse. Read on to learn about how some of the countries we visit in 2015 have pioneered their own unique ways to say “I love you”.
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that the layered wedding cake was first invented in France…but you may not know that another cake, the “croquembouche”, a caramel covered pyramid of cream puffs, was also a key element in French weddings. Brides and grooms on their wedding day would be challenged to try to kiss over this towering pyramid without knocking it over and, if successful, were promised a lifetime of prosperity. One theory is that this practice was derived from the Middle Ages when wedding guests would bring cakes to the betrothed which were put in a pile to be eaten after the wedding ceremony.
Even more amusing is the French tradition on Valentine’s Day where long ago, single men and women participated in a “loterie d’amour”. Each of the sexes would pile into houses across the street from one another and yell out the name of a member of the opposite sex they admired. After couples paired off, all the women who were not chosen by anyone joined together and built a ceremonial fire into which they threw images and objects of the men who had rejected them, cursing and swearing at them loudly. Apparently, these events got so out-of-hand, the French government eventually banned the practice!
The “magic hanky” is a great Irish wedding tradition which we think might be something worth emulating at your next wedding. Irish brides don a hanky as part of their wedding garb which is then turned into a christening bonnet for their first-born. After the baby’s christening, the bonnet is then saved to be turned back into a hanky for the child’s wedding day. How cool!
The “honeymoon” may also have originated in Ireland. In days of old, Irish couples would drink bunratty mead, a honey-based alcoholic drink (the oldest in Ireland) after which the groom would kidnap his bride, disappear with her for a month and when she became pregnant, return home when the marriage would be more acceptable to the respective families. Hmm!
In Slovenia, St Valentine or “Zdravko” is the patron saint of Spring and St Valentine’s Day is celebrated with the first day of working in the fields. An old Slovene proverb is “St Valentine brings the keys of roots” and Slovenians believe wild birds pick their mates on this day. But why celebrate love just one day per year? Well the Slovenians don’t! They also celebrate on February 22nd (St Vincent’s Day), March 12th (St Gregory’s Day) and on June 13th (St Anthony’s Day). Well done Slovenia!
What Valentines traditions have you made with those in your life? Tell us on Facebook!