Here Comes the Bride

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Here Comes the Bride

Many rituals and customs that are part of a modern wedding are out—growths of early practices whose significance has long been forgotten. In one final ritual the bride tosses her bridal bouquet to the unmarried female guests, who all scramble for the prize. This custom has its origins back in the days of ancient Rome.

In those days, when the bride entered her new home she was handed a torch. She promptly used it to light the hearth; then she tossed the torch to her friends, who would grapple for it. Sometimes she didn't even wait to extinguish the flaming torch. Whether it was lighted or not, the lucky woman who walked away with the torch was guaranteed exceptionally good luck for the remainder of the year. Understandably, the scrambling for the torch often became quite violent.

This custom survives today, with modifications. The violence is gone, and so is the torch. The bride instead tosses her bridal bouquet to her eager friends, and the winner is said to be the next married.

From the book: 
Our Fascinating Earth