Why do we throw rice at weddings?

Traditions... love them or hate them, we can't deny the importance and impact they have on our lives. Some are funny and charming, some are outdated and some are downright bizarre.

For example, did you know that according to a Chinese tradition a man is supposed to carry his new bride over hot coals before entering their new home? Apparently, this'll ensure an easy and successful childbirth. Strange but also very fascinating, don't you think?

While every generation tries to find and define their own ways, it seems many couples like to include some traditions on one of the happiest days of their lives... their wedding day.

This post is the first in a new series in which I like to introduce you to various wedding traditions, where they originated from and, the most fascinating part, how they're being celebrated in different corners of the world.

Let's start with a classic... throwing rice.

(And yes, I'm totally aware those are dried flowers in the image above and not rice. But white rice on a white background doesn't look exciting or pretty and dried flowers are a great alternative as you're about to find out.)

 

THE ORIGINS

The custom of throwing rice dates back all the way to the Romans. Some sources say that the Romans threw wheat instead of rice, either way, it was seen as a "life-giving seed" and symbolised fertility and prosperity.

So throwing rice at a wedding is meant to bestow fertility upon the couple, wishing them many children.

 

DIFFERENT CULTURES

You might wonder if this tradition is being practiced worldwide. Let me enlighten you, my curious friend. Throwing rice appears to be a universal tradition although it's not always rice that's being thrown in other countries.

In Italy, you'd throw sweets and candy at the couple to wish them sweetness in their marriage (now I know where I will get married).

In Morocco, it's figs and raisins to bestow fruitfulness upon the marriage.

In Korea, the groom's parents throw red dates and chestnuts at their new daughter-in-law, which she tries to catch in her wedding skirt, in a bid to attract fertility and bestow many children upon the happy couple.

And in India, it's all about rose petals. An interesting twist is the fact that it's the Hindu bride who throws the rice (5 handfuls to be exact)... at her parent's house. This gesture symbolises her giving prosperity back to her parents.

 

ALTERNATIVES

Throwing rice as we know it might be coming to an end though. Many wedding venues kindly ask couples to find an alternative. Why? Have you ever spilled rice at home in your kitchen? If you haven't, let me tell you it'll drive you mad trying to clean it all up. 

Rice is also a serious safety issue. Yes, you heard that right. (My partner Paul, Health and Safety Manager by day, Ninja Warrior by night, must be so proud of me right now.) If rice gets wet, it becomes very slippery. It's also incredibly unpleasant to have uncooked rice thrown in your face from a short distance, wouldn't you agree?

So ditch the rice if you want to avoid broken bones and visits to your optometrist. Some lovely and slightly less hazardous alternatives are dried or fresh leaves or flowers, rose petals, lavender or confetti (although someone still has the unenviable task of cleaning everything up).

There are also many people who believe that rice is harmful to birds, who'll likely swoop in to grab some lunch. But I've found as many articles online that state, this has scientifically been proven to be untrue. 

 

Despite the many shortcomings of rice, it actually has one distinct advantage...

According to old Chinese folklore, a vampire who comes across a sack of rice will have to count all of the grains. (I bet you didn't see that coming.) That's because vampires apparently suffer from a form of obsessive compulsive disorder, being fascinated with counting. So if you like to enjoy your wedding day after vampires have taken over the world and Buffy and the Scooby Gang are not available to help you, now you know exactly what to do. (You can thank me later.)

 

Other alternatives may be blowing bubbles, although I've read that the soap contained in the bubbles may leave stains on some fabrics, which can be easily spotted on white or light coloured clothes and may also prove difficult to remove.

Sparklers could be a great alternative for evening weddings, but they might also easily become a safety issue. (Who knew weddings could be this dangerous, eh?)

 

If all this talk about health and safety issues hasn't deterred you and you still like to throw something at your wedding, I'd recommend you speak to your venue to find out what they'll allow you to do.

 

I hope you enjoyed this new blog series. If you did, it would mean the world to me if you'd share it with a friend who will find it as entertaining as you did.

Are there any wedding traditions you want to know more about? Yes? Then let me know in the comments. And if you follow me on Bloglovin, you'll have fast and easy access to the next installment in this series and all my other blog posts.

 

 Thank you for reading.