It’s the beginning of May and we have officially entered wedding season, at least here in the United States.
As I’ve come to learn, wedding traditions in Italy differ from those we celebrate here. Our wedding season lasts from mid-April to mid-October, but Italians consider it superstitious to be married during the months of May and August. The month of May is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, while August is Italy’s vacation month. For religious reasons, Italians also don’t have weddings during Lent or Advent. Italians often chose to be married on a Sunday.
Another Italian wedding tradition is similar to the American one, but with a twist.
Traditionally the bride wears something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and in Italy, something received as a gift. The gifted item is to remind the bride of the people who love her.
In the South, a wedding ceremony can last the entire day or longer. The bride walks around the ceremony in a procession called il girano delle buste, where the invited families place money in a small bag to help offset her family’s wedding expenses.
In the Veneto region of Italy, the groom walks the bride to the church while the couple encounters several obstacles along the way including a crying baby, according to World Wedding Customs.
The matrimonial meal
Contrary to what one might assume, Italian Wedding Soup isn’t called that because it’s served at weddings, but instead it’s a translation of minestra maritata, which refers to the marriage of the flavors in the soup.
Italian wedding meals usually consist of an antipasto and a multi-course dinner.
Small bits of twisted dough in sugar, known as wanda are often served as desert along with a traditional white Italian wedding cake, according to Life in Italy.
The Wedding Bonboniera (party favor)
Last spring, ‘Italian America’ published an article about the confetti given at Italian weddings. Confetti are sugarcoated almonds symbolizing fertility. The bride either circles the room offering the almonds to her guests, or each guest gets a decorated bonboniera (a muslin or silk bag containing the sugarcoated almonds and the names of the bride and groom written inside). The number of almonds must always be three or five to symbolize the couple that can’t be divided. The number five also signifies five wishes for a successful marriage: happiness, good health, fertility, longevity and prosperity.
New and Old Traditions
The night before the matrimony, it’s common for the bride-to-be to gather at her home with a married woman to prepare the wedding bed. She also often wears green the night before the wedding to symbolize a fertile marriage.
‘O sole mio’
Love songs like, “O sole mio,” made popular by Luciano Pavarotti and “Vivo per lei,” by Andre Bocelli are often sung during the reception while Southern Italians dance to the tradition of the “The Tarantella,” a circle wedding dance.
Here’s a clip of the wedding Tarantella in action.
Historic Italian Weddings
According to ‘La Gazzetta Italiana,’ years ago brides in Tuscany wore black dresses and white hats. The wedding party consisted of only married women because unmarried girls are forbidden to witness the ceremony.
Even today, Italians salute Per cent’anni to the bride and groom, wishing them a hundred years of happy marriage.
Thanks to Laura Kelly, OSIA National Office Administrative Assistant, for the inspiration for this post.
Written by OSIA National Office Intern, Carol Cummings. Cummings is a senior at American University, majoring in print journalism, with a minor in Italian.