By: Martha Brockenbrough
Evil spirits and bridesmaids' dresses
The typical North American wedding is just bursting with meaningful traditions--if you know where to look. Take bridesmaids' dresses. They're not just evil looking; they're evil-repellent.
If you've ever wondered why bridesmaids all dress the same, it's because Roman law required ten witnesses to make a wedding legal. Several of these witnesses dressed up exactly like the bride and groom, to confound any malevolent forces who might show up uninvited. Europeans followed a similar tradition, and later bridesmaids and groomsmen sometimes did have to defend the happy couple against real-life thugs and warriors.
Ring around the ...
If you've ever wondered why Americans put the wedding ring on the third finger of the left hand, it's because of an ancient Greek belief that a vein in this finger ran directly to the heart. And if you've ever groaned at having to buy both an engagement ring and a wedding ring, you can blame Pope Innocent III, who instituted a waiting period between engagement and marriage in the 13th century and also insisted that a ring be used in the wedding ceremony. Before that, rings were used to seal an engagement only (as well as other important agreements).
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