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Library notes: June a good month to learn about wedding customs

By Gretchen Beilfuss Witt
Rowan Public Library
Wedding season is upon us.
Did you ever wonder where some of the traditions of weddings originated? Although not as common as it once was, June is a favorite month for nuptials. Juno, the Roman goddess for whom June is named, was patron of marriage in the Roman culture, thus marriages in June got off to auspicious beginnings.
Did you know that in 1866 a young man showed up at Tuxedo Park in New York with the tails of his formal dress coat missing? He explained that the Prince of Wales was sporting a similar style and the tuxedo was born.
Did you know that in many cultures, the groom set out to kidnap his bride either feigning (and with permission) or by force? Who better to help than his “best” man, his close friend or lieutenant who would be the strongest or surest in the fight for his bride. The role of the best man is a little less violent today but still an important source of support and friendship.
Although the groom traditionally requests the hand of his bride in marriage, an old legend declares that during leap year a woman could propose to her chosen groom. The law in the British Isles during Medieval times claimed a single man who declined a woman’s proposal during leap year had to compensate her with a kiss and a silk gown.
Similar laws were introduced in Europe and the custom was legalized in France and parts of Italy by the 15th century and continued in the Great Britain and Europe until the 19th century.
Once the bride has agreed to a marriage, the whirlwind descends. Whether a long engagement or an elopement, a civil or religious marriage, decisions are made and customs are reenacted. Many like to honor their heritage whether ethnic or religious. Any number of sources will help you make your own choices for this special day.
“Jumping the Broom” by Harriette Cole speaks to African traditions and gives some information about African customs as well as American adaptations.
“A Simple Wedding” by Sharon Hanby-Robie, and “Wedding Goddess,” by Brockway, both encourage a variety of ways to make the day special and stress-free, along with respecting spiritual needs.
For tidbits from choosing flower colors to finding out that the first diamond engagement ring was given by Archduke Maximillian of Austria to Mary of Burgundy in 1477, turn to “Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette.”
Interested in the unusual or uncommon, take a look at Verrill’s “Strange Customs, Manners and Beliefs” or Tuleja’s “Curious Customs.” Both are full of marvelous stories that enrich our understanding of marriage rituals worldwide.
For instance, in the Cook Islands, the young men lay on the ground before the bride, making a bridge so she may walk on them in the processional.
In Germany, while the men have the bachelor party, the bride and her friends smash crockery which the bride sweeps up outside the house to ensure good luck and prosperity.
The rites of marriage are as diverse as they are curious; whether planning for a wedding or a student of anthropology satisfy your curiosity with a good book.P.S. The next leap year is 2012.
Computer classes: Classes are free. Sessions are 90 minutes long. Class size is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis.
Headquarters ó June 15, 7 p.m., Absolute Beginner’s PowerPoint; June 18, 2:30 p.m., Yahoo e-mail: Beyond the Basics; June 22, 7 p.m., Power Point: Beyond the Basics; June 25, 2:30 p.m., Open Office Up Close: Writer.South ó June 11, 11 a.m., Intermediate Word.
Children’s: Help Rowan Public Library celebrate the start of summer reading by attending the Be Creative kickoff event. Weekly programs will be provided by Flow’s Circus, Chinese Acrobats and Zelnik the Magician. Kickoff dates are: South, June 11, 6 p.m.; East, June 12, 1:30 p.m.; headquarters, June 13, 10 a.m. For more information, call 704-216-8243.Teen program: RPL’s program for teens, Express Yourself @ Your Library, will kick off June 15 for rising sixth- through 12th-graders. Kill Toys Workshop will be the first event, with Japanese Kendama, juggling and more. Because class size is limited, registration is required for this week only. Please call the library nearest you to register. Teens can attend any of the other programs without registration.
Headquarters, June 15, 5:30 p.m.; South, June 16, 5:30 p.m.; East, June 17, 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday Night at the Movies: All movies are at 6:30 p.m. All movies are rated G, PG or PG 13; some movies are inappropriate for younger audiences. Children should be accompanied by an adult. Free popcorn and lemonade. June movies are anime features selected by the Rowan County Anime Group.
Tuesday, “The Place Promised in Our Early Days”; June 16, “A Tree of Plame”; June 23, “Sakura Wars. The Movie”; June 30, “Howl’s Moving.”
Displays: Headquarters ó Rowan Arts Council, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College; South ó Ireland by Diane Brideson; East ó stained glass by James Brady.

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