Tag Archives: Weddings

Broken Ceramic, Broken Hearts


This was an incident that occurred during my cousin’s wedding that caused quite a bit of argument within the family. ‘Jie’ refers to my older sister. The interview is with my mother as I get her to recount the incident.



The following is transcribed from a conversation between me, (M), and my mother, the interviewee (I).

M: Do you remember the time you got really upset at jie about the gift she tried to give Dixie?

I: Yes that was really bad.

M: Can you tell me about the gift and why you were so upset?

I: She tried to give Dixie a pair of ceramic cups that she had made as a wedding gift. But! One of the cups had a crack in it. I told her to either remake it or don’t give it at all. Because it’s bad luck in Chinese tradition to give something that is broken on her wedding. And you know Dixie, she is superstitious, and you cannot do that during a wedding.

M: What ended up happening to the gift?

I: Your jie still insisted on giving it so I had to hide it during the wedding itself and not give it to Dixie. You cannot do things like that, especially at a Wedding.



I remember very clearly this being a huge moment of contention between my mother and sister. My sister had put in days of work in order to create something homemade and special for our favorite cousin on her wedding day, and my mother seeing the broken ceramic cup and refusing to let my sister gift it on the wedding day. I think this shows how superstition across generations can change and how it can create moments of tension. While my sister was not a superstitious person, my mother was and she knew that my cousin was as well and thus could not allow such a gift to be given. It was also a reflection of the family and my mother felt that it would’ve reflected badly on her if she had allowed such a gift to be giving by her own daughter. The superstition comes from Chinese beliefs where everything must be seen as auspicious. From the color red that must be present everywhere on the wedding day, to the multitudes of rituals of tea pouring that must be done in the correct order.

Spitting at Greek Weddings


“That common stereotype that Greeks spit at brides down the wedding aisle you see in [My] Big Fat Greek Wedding, although exageratted, is based in truth.  More in Greek-Greek culture than in Greek-American culture, you will see people spit on the bride, not walking down the aisle, but while she gets ready.  Also this “spitting” is not accompanied by saliva, but instead is like a mock spit. What it’s supposed to do is ward away evil spirits and the “evil eye”,  which a lot of us characterize with a redness on the face.  This can be acne or just simple irritation of the skin, but we have done it at weddings moreso to wish the bride luck and hope her husband doesn’t run away.  Yeah, it can be a little condescending at times because people could do it to say, “Just so your man doesn’t leave you at the altar”.


My informant was born in Anaheim, California, however, she spent most of her childhood on Greece’s  Mainland, particularly in Thessaloniki.  Both of her parents grew up and emigrated from Greece only twenty years ago.  SK, my informant, learned this not from her church in America, but her church back in Thessaloniki where there is more of a belief in bad spirits surrounding big occasions.


This came from a friend of mine from my church in Southern California.  I got this folklore from a zoom call with her while she was quarantined back in Greece.  I asked her to explain some traditional Greek cultural cornerstones she knows as she ate breakfast.


When you watch the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, it’s easy to write off a lot of the stuff in it and other culture-specific movies as overblown stereotypes, however, in asking someone with firsthand experience, it’s very interesting to see a piece of folklore interpreted into a joke or comedic form.  As well, I find it interesting that this has such a dual meaning.  It can be seen as helpful or insulting and that really opens up a conversation about how one bigger folk group could be divided into  sub-divisions based on how they interpret the same piece of folklore.

Wedding Traditions


The informant is a 29-year-old Caucasian female who will be called JH. She is of Irish and English descent and knows of this folklore from her family, more specifically her grandparents. This folklore piece is told in her words:

Main Piece:

My Paternal Grandparents used to tell us that it was tradition on our wedding day for proper young ladies to have a few things:

– Something Old: Usually a piece of jewelry from a mother/grandmother/future mother-in-law. You were connected via sentiment and would carry that into your new marriage.

– Something New: Usually a gift of some sort from the groom or his family to show that the wife was considered precious to them.

– Something Borrowed: Sometimes a veil from a family member, or a trinket they wore or used in their wedding.

– Something Blue: Usually we learned it was forget-me-nots, sweet blue flowers to never forget your family, or the new love and joy you would receive from your wedding day. We also learned it could be a blue handkerchief, to hide the blue of tears (sad or happy).

And a sixpence in your shoe: By walking into your new life with wealth in your foot, you would always have money when you needed it for a prosperous life.



JH learned about this folklore when she was younger and had attended a wedding with her family. JH is not currently married but when she does get married, she will continue this tradition.


This tradition derives from an Old English rhyme, which goes, “Something olde, something new, something borrowed, something blue, a sixpence in your shoe.” The meaning of something old is meant to ward off the “evil eye” and protect the newly weds and their future children. It can also represent continuity. Something new expresses optimism for the future so that the new couple can have good luck for their future life together. Something borrowed is a way for the couple to share in the luck given to them from the item that it borrowed and from that person/persons. The contemporary belief is to have something that honors a loved one that the item came from.  Something blue is also another way to ward of evil or mean spirits. And the sixpence is for future prosperity and good fortune in the couple’s life together. This tradition wasn’t something my family did however, for my wedding, my mother-in-law gave me trinkets that fulfilled every part of the tradition. I may continue this tradition with my children as I appreciated the gesture made by my mother-in-law.


For more information on this tradition, check out:




Iraqi Wedding Tradition

Marc is one of my close friends, and I knew that his dad is from South Africa, and his mom is of Arab descent. With this in mind, I asked if he had any particular traditions at celebrations from either of these cultures. What he told me about what a dance that he has done at multiple Arab style weddings.


Marc said that, “At weddings we do something called a Dakbe line, this is pretty much when the whole wedding gets in a big line and does a traditional line dance from various Arab areas, this is usually done at weddings but also at other celebratory events. It’s one of my favorite things to do at these types of events. I learned this from my mom’s side of the family who is of Arab descent.”


Background Info: Marc’s father is from South Africa and his Mom’s parents are from an area near Iraq. Marc now lives in Florida, and attends many events every year that involve traditions and flavors of these two different backgrounds.


Context: Marc told me about this tradition while we were in his apartment hanging out during small talk.


Analysis: I personally have yet to attend a wedding, so I don’t know of any wedding traditions that I have seen in person. At bar mitzvahs, there is a similar type of line dance that Marc speaks of. What I found interesting was how this dance is done at other celebratory events as well because in my religion, this type of dance is only at specific events rather than multiple.


Jumping the Broom at Weddings

Informant: The informant is Briana, a nineteen-year-old freshman at the University of Southern California. She grew up in Vacaville, California, in the Bay Area, and has lived there for her entire life, until she moved to Los Angeles for college. She is of African descent.

Context of the performance: This performance was done while we were sitting on the grass outside of our dorm building on USC’s campus- Arts and Humanities at Parkside.

Original Script:

Informant: So, at weddings, African Americans have a tradition of the newlywed spouses jumping over a broom after they say their vows. Basically, someone brings a broom up to the altar so that when the spouses are leaving, they have to jump over it to exit the ceremony area, whether it’s a church or not. It’s supposed to represent sweeping your past behind you, whether that was any issues you had dating or just your past as single people.Your lives as single people are behind you, and you enter into your relationship as a married couple and your new, shared life together.

Interviewer: Who taught you about this ritual?

Informant: My grandmother told me this when I was in middle school.

Interviewer: Why is this piece of folklore important to you?

Informant: I think it’s cool because it’s a tradition that’s been done for a long time. Also, my mom and dad did it, and so I want to do it. I would keep the broom, personally, and I would show my kids. It would be really sentimental for them to see it.

Personal Thoughts: I enjoyed hearing about this ritual because I, personally, have never been to a wedding. However, I do know that my family does not follow this tradition, so it was quite interesting to learn about. At first, I was confused as to why the couple would step over a broom, but, with Briana’s explanation, the ritual totally makes sense. It is also interesting that she knew the reasoning behind this piece of folklore because many people who observe or participate in folklore do not know about its true message.