Twenty three years ago, my best friend and I met each other at the end of an aisle, and after saying ‘I Do’ and the feasting and merriment finished, we newlyweds retired to our quarters for the beginning of our lives together.
So, what does this have to do with farming you might be asking?
Everything, and yet nothing.
The roots of many of many celebratory traditions can be found in very old superstitions and agricultural practices that were adopted as people migrated from one land to another and cultures mingled.
Depending on the source you look to, the reasons for carrying a bride over the threshold vary. Some say that good fortune, luck and bountiful harvests are bestowed upon the newly wedded if the bride crosses the threshold without hesitation or stumbling. To ensure this at the end of a day of food and drink while dressed in heavy fabric and a tight bodice, the groom would support or even carry her to ensure that only prosperity and successful harvests filled their future.
Where the bride was considered property, sources indicate that the bad luck, demons, and curses bestowed upon the bride’s family follow her innocence and can only enter the family home if welcomed. The groom, carrying the bride over the threshold denies them entry, and upon the morning light, she is free to come and go across the threshold without fear of further haunting.
Yet other traditions rely upon the ‘virginal qualities’ of the bride, and as she does not want to easily ‘give up’ her chastity, she has to be taken. This one also hails back to Roman times in which conquered lands and people were not necessarily eager to participate in their ‘new’ lives.
One I’ve seen that is an ’Old German Tradition’ is the ’Sawing of the Log’ (the reference is not one associated with a good nights sleep). I, alongside of many others in our town, first experienced this tradition at a friends wedding when we found ourselves joining in on the cheers and heckling as our two friends, one at each end of a traditional lumberjacks saw, worked together to “cut through the first of many obstacles that they would experience as man and wife.” The idea is that if you are able to work together to accomplish this task, you are able to work through just about any other challenge that befalls the couple.
While Karl and I have had many opportunities to work on and overcome challenges (as all married do), we have yet to ‘saw the log’ and in my youthful exuberance and strong will, I insisted that we cross the threshold together – that we were a team, and as such, stronger together as equals.
Did we thumb our noses at the agricultural gods?
These many years later I remain as stubborn as ever and my exuberance has faded a bit, yet we remain the best of friends and we continue to look forward to future adventures hoping that with continued hard work, wise choices, and a bit of luck, there will be of good fortune among the challenges, and we will continue to laugh through the tears as our children grow and will soon move onto lives of their own.
To me the surest sign of good fortune is family, friends, and a lifetime of memories. At the end of the day, isn’t that also what farming is about?
Until next time, may your knees be green, and your spirit light.