As prescribed by Paulina Constancia
|“The Love Mask”
by paulina constancia
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So you are suddenly so in love with this man and you say to your friends, “He’s swept me off my feet.” Today we will look into the history behind this love idiom, “Sweep someone off their feet”, and the following marriage traditions: the role of the best man, why the bride and groom customarily leave the wedding celebration before everyone else, why grooms carry their bride over the threshold and the honeymoon.
I first encountered these topics as an ESL teacher in Canada. We had a new theme to teach every week. Around Valentine’s the topic was “Love, Romance and Marriage” and we would teach about different courtship and marriage customs and traditions.
Excerpts from “Enduring Wedding Traditions”
The tradition of a best man has its origin with the Germanic Goths, when it was customary and preferable for a man to marry a woman from within his own community. When women came into short supply “locally,” eligible bachelors would have to seek out and capture a bride from a neighboring community. As you might guess, this was not a one-person operation, and so the future bridegroom would be accompanied by a male companion who would help. Our custom of the best man is a throwback to that two-man, strong-armed tactic, for, of course the future groom would select only the best man he knew to come along for such an important task.
The role of the best man evolved. By 200 A.D. his task was still more than just safeguarding the ring. There remained a real threat that the bride’s family would attempt to forcibly obtain her return, so the best man remained at the groom’s side throughout the marriage ceremony, alert and well-armed. He continued his duties after the ceremony by standing guard as sentry outside the newlywed’s home. Much of this is German folklore, but is not without written documentation and physical artifacts. We have records that indicate that beneath the altars of many churches of early peoples (the Huns, Goths, Visigoths, and Vandals) there lay an arsenal of clubs, knives, and spears. The indication is that these were there to protect the groom from possible attack by the bride’s family in an attempt to recapture her.
Excerpts from How Stuff Works
As it turns out, weddings in the days of yore sometimes followed kidnappings. This explains not only the role of the best man but also why the bride and groom customarily leave the wedding celebration before everyone else. It’s symbolic of the groom stealing away with his bride, whisking her from her family and into a new life with him.
So next time you hear a friend raving about how a man has swept her off her feet, tell her she should be thankful she lives in this day and age.(PC)