In even more ancient times, the word "rape" did not mean the ugly sexual
aggrevated assault we hear about in the world of today. Rape, coming
from the word Rapture, meant, the hunt and seduction of a woman. Often
in Roman Mythology we will hear about the "rape" of this goddess or that
goddess or whatever. It simply meant the man pursued the woman (serenade),
seduced her and made her his own. Its actually quite a beautiful, romantic
notion, unfortunately the word has come to evolve and be associated with
the more accurate term, sexual aggrevated assault, which clearly means the
woman is stalked and taken against her will and violated.
Like many marriages in the "old world" (not just
Italy), families would often arrange the marriage between man and women.
We see one captivating example of an "old world proposal" in
The Godfather when Michael Coreleone
(played by Al Pacino) goes with his bodyguards
to the father of a woman that has captivated him. The bodyguards are
very nervous, but Michael is confident. Sometimes it is similar of the old
way men would approach the father, and it the "first date" was often a meeting
of the family in a dinner type setting. For those of you who have never
seen the Godfather, again, I must urge you to, as it is not another "mafia
movie" (something we do NOT endorse at
SicilianCulture.com) but a real movie about real
In medieval times, it
was legend that dictated the belief that diamonds were created by flames
of love. The gold standard in Italy always has been, and until this
day, is 18k gold. My first visit to Italy was when I was in college. I was
working part time in a chain jewelry store in the local mall in order to
help pay for college. But when I got to Florence, I was amazed that not only
was all the gold 18k (not just wedding rings) but it was also 25% less than
what we pay in the United States for 14k or 10k.
A dowry (still popular today in Turkey) was paid
by the family of the bride, usually in the form of a large sum of money.
Why? Well, quite frankly, its a sexist thing, they feel that the man
is taking the woman off the hands of her father, giving her a home, supporting
her, feeding her, etc. Obviously, women of today's world, most definitely
the United States, and even in the bigger cities of Italy, women laugh at
this, as they have prove all so well that they can take care of themselves
without any man.
The Night Before The Wedding
The night before a woman gets married, she often wears the color green which
is thought to bring luck and abundance to the couple. Bachelor or
bachelorette parties are not part of the festivities.
Weddings and baptisms never take place during
Lent (Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday) unless it is an emergency, even
to this day in the Roman Catholic Church, even in the USA. In
Italy, May and August are also avoided because the month of May is the veneration
of the Virgin Mary, and August is thought to be bad luck. Yes, by now you
are starting to learn how superstitious the Italians, more particularly the
Sicilians are. The oddest thing is, that they are also very devout
Catholics, and Catholics are not supposed to believe in superstition.
Additionally, the groom is supposed to carry a piece of iron in his pocket
(Toc Ferro) to ward off the evil eye (mal'occhio), the reasoning being that
his happiness might invoke envy and invite danger from other people and/or
evil spirits. The bride wears a veil to conceal her from these same
The bride never wears any gold jewelry, it is
thought to bring bad luck, until, of course, the her wedding ring is on.
And, it can't all be about avoiding bad luck,
sometimes you have to go with a sure thing, like getting married on a Sunday,
that is the luckiest day of the week. (Especially for those attending,
because now they don't have to go to church two days in the same week, they
can get it done all in one day). But that is more of an American thing,
Americans (not all) often find going to church an inconvenience, and as a
child, I often argued that since I was at a Saturday wedding, I did not have
to go to church again on Sunday. Italians take pride and joy in attending
church on a Sunday.
One thing I remember from my childhood, and sometimes
I still see today, were those sugar-coated almonds in plastic mesh bags
which are called bomboniera. This symbolizes the "bitter-sweet" sacrament
of marriage. As always, odd numbers are luckier (in anything and
everything) to the Italians, so there should always be an odd number of these
candies. Also, when you serve your sambuca with coffee beans, 3 is traditional,
again, always an odd number.
One little known tradition, and more common in
southern regions of Italy, the couple throws glass, shattering it into as
many pieces as they can at the end of their wedding day. The more pieces
it shatters in, that represents how many years of marriage they will have
Even before any food
is served, the best man greets the guests at the reception with a tray of
liquor, sweet liquors for the women, strong
drinks. This is used in place of champagne to
toast the newlywed couple. "Cent Anni" literally
means "100-years" as if to say, 100 years of live, love and happiness.
Like today, the bride carries a satin bag called
la borsa. Guests place envelopes containing money to help pay for the
wedding. It is common, like in the United States, for the bride's family
to pay for the wedding.
Food, naturally, is what takes place now.
Dinners containing more than a dozen courses are served, many symbolizing
specific foods for good luck. One common "starter" is the
Wedding Soup, which is actually chicken
soup with miniature meatballs.
Espresso and pastries are served after
the dinner, and of course, once everyone has had enough to eat and drink
the Tarantella dance!
You never have to travel far to have an exotic honeymoon in Italy. You
have the Islands breathtaking Islands of Capri, Sicily, Sardinia and of course
some of the most beautiful cities in the world on the mainland!