…Elbow, Fingertip, Waltz, Flyaway, Mantilla, Fishnet, Birdcage, Bouffant, Shoulder, Waist, Knee, and Royal. Any guesses what we’re talking about this week? Yup! Veils.
Unlike the curiously vacant post about Wedding Arches, this subject seems to be something people can’t shut up about. Possibly because it’s linked to fashion, which everyone loves. I don’t really know. Anyway, on to the story!
According to this site, veils, in their earliest forms, seemed to have originated in the near east — as a practical thing, probably, to guard against the elements. In relation to weddings, the veil is mentioned in the story of Isaac in Genesis 24 and Jacob in Genesis 29. Unfortunately for Jacob, the veil was used against him to trick him into marrying the wrong woman, but that’s another story.
Other than the Bible, the next historical reference to wedding veils I can find is in a different country and under very different circumstances: in Rome. Here, according to Wikipedia, the veil was used to ward off evil spirits. It was also “flame-colored,” and possibly with flame designs. In the medieval times, this site offers that it protected the bride from the “evil eye” and might have been a protection in arranged marriage contracts; the man wasn’t allowed to see the woman before the marriage, so he couldn’t back out if he found out she was ugly.
The veil quickly came to symbolize purity and virginity, which is supposedly why most brides don’t wear it over their face in their weddings nowadays. (I’d argue that they just don’t want something touching their face and makeup, but perhaps it started that way.) According to Wikipedia, the veil would often be lifted by the father of the bride or the husband, representing either the giving away or the possession of the bride, respectively. Because of this symbolism, however, second-time brides weren’t traditionally supposed to wear a veil (because they aren’t pure) although that’s pretty much a goner at this point.
As a sidenote the parallel tradition in Japan, according to this site, is a covering not of the face, but of the hair and head. Supposedly to cover up the horns of jealousy or other unpleasant traits that they wouldn’t want to show their future husband at the wedding. Interesting!
Verdict: There are so many traditions wrapped up in this one it’s difficult to say.
I straight-up don’t want anything over my face, so that’s not happening, pure or otherwise. I’m planning to use my mother’s veil, as I noted in my last Bucking Tradition post, so I’m wearing whatever type of veil she has. Although to be honest, I’m mostly wearing it as a nod to her and not because of one of the traditional values I found. I don’t necessarily mind some of the background, though. Well, except the spirits and ugliness. That’s not really my thing. Anyway.
Next up: Flower Girl and Ring Bearer