June 29, 2016
If you’re getting married then we presume that you are well aware of the famous rhyme that a fair few will say to you on your big day. But where does the Something Old poem come from and why should you do it?
In short, the ‘Something Borrowed’ poem is meant to be followed for good luck during and after your wedding day. That being said, nobody attends a wedding wanting it to go badly, so some may wonder why it’s ever followed at all. Superstitions don’t allow for such rationality however. If something were to go wrong, it’s fair to say Auntie Maureen would probably blame on the fact you didn’t attach something blue to your wedding dress. Sigh!
For those of you still unaware how the poem goes, it reads like this:
‘Something old, something news, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in her shoe.’
See if you can spot the part above that brides have been ignoring for the past few decades. Yes, it’s a little more difficult to find a sixpence than it used to be so the poem as most people recite it tends to stop after ‘something blue’.
The rhyme originated in England as part of English folklore. In Folklore, written by The English Folklore Society in 1898, it was explained that:
In this country an old couplet directs that the bride shall wear:— "Something old, something new, Something borrowed, something blue." "The something blue" takes, I am given to understand, usually the form of a garter, an article of dress which plays an important part in some wedding rites, as, for instance, in the old custom of plucking off the garter of the bride. "The something old" and "something blue" are devices to baffle the Evil Eye. The usual effect on the bride of the Evil Eye is to render her barren, and this is obviated by wearing "something borrowed", which should properly be the undergarment of some woman who has been blessed with children: the clothes communicate fertility to the bride.
However the above explanation is denounced by a 1905 book as merely being the ‘Lancashire version’ of the poem. In Folk-lore of women as illustrated by legendary and traditionary tales, the authors explain that the Leicestershire recitation goes as follows:
‘…a bride on her wedding day should wear—'Something new, Something blue, Something borrowed…'
The ‘something old’ part of the poem is completely ignored, whilst the authors also state that the wearing of blue is in direct contrast to other regional folklore, which warn against wearing blue on your wedding day. They add that the colour being included in the rhyme relates to phrases like ‘true blue’, which make positive associations with the colour.
With all that being said, it makes it very difficult for us to recommend the definitive version for your wedding. Should you try and find a sixpence before the big day? To wear blue or not to wear blue? Dare you defy instructions to ward off the Evil Eye?
Ultimately the decision is up to you but whatever happens, we are sure that your wedding day will be unaffected by choosing to follow a few words from over a century ago. Best of luck!
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By Henry Fosdike