Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/408

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band and wife now gather, offer sacrifices, say prayers, and eat of the sacred wheaten cake. This last performance, which still survives in our wedding-cake of today, was of great importance, as it cemented and sanctified the union of the two, who were now associated together in the same domestic circle and the same worship.

The wedding feast is of ancient origin, and probably originated, as Westermarck points out, in the purchase stage, where the feast was regarded as a part of the purchase price paid by the groom; or, in cases where the expenses were met by the parents of the bride, as part compensation for the sum of money paid for the bride. The custom of giving presents to the bride is also interesting in its origin. In all probability it also came from the purchase sum paid by the groom to the family of his bride, this purchase sum degenerating into a mere present, more or less arbitrary, which in some cases was returned to the giver; in others, given to the bride. In Athens, during an early period, the dower was known, for the bride was frequently provided with a marriage portion by her father or guardian. This led to the giving of presents by the bridegroom to his wife. It was a common observance for gifts to be exchanged between the bride and groom or their guardians, and numerous instances of this are recorded. It is a part of the ceremony in China and Japan; and Tacitus relates a similar custom among the Germans. Thus the custom of giving the bride a good start in life with the aid of presents is not new; while the bridal tour, and the practice of throwing rice and old shoes after the departing bride and groom, are symbols of the violence that formerly accompanied the marriage ceremony. Even more dangerous weapons were used within recent times, for it is related to have been a custom among the Irish to cast darts at the bridal party. On one occasion, however, a certain Lord Hoath lost an eye by the foolish practice, and since that time it has become obsolete, less harmful weapons having been substituted. The "best man" of to-day was formerly the chief lieutenant of the groom in the act of capturing his bride, while we find the wedding ring in use among the ancient Hindus. Among the Ceylonese the latter takes a curious form, for "the bride ties a thin cord of her own twisting round the bridegroom's waist, and they are then husband and wife."[1] This he wears through life as an emblem of the union. The ceremony would indicate that among these people the woman is "the boss." This, however, is contrary to the usual custom which we find among many other tribes, for the boxing of the bride's ears by her husband to indicate that he is master is an important part

  1. Westermarck's The History of Human Marriage, p. 420.