History of Something Blue

The actual full rhyme, which dates from Victorian England, is “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver six pence in her shoe.” 

Judith Martin, otherwise known as Miss Manners, calls this rhyme “a catchy little catch-all of virtues and hopes.” Something old represents continuity and respect for family, and is often a piece of jewelery handed down from a member of the bride’s family who has had a happy marriage. Something new represents the hopes for good fortune in the bride’s new life. Something borrowed reminds the bride of dependence, and of the family and friends who support her. Something blue represents the bride’s “true blue” faithfulness towards the groom. The sometimes dropped last line represents happiness linked to prosperity. 

Wedding superstitions that have fallen by the wayside include the bride ensuring happiness by feeding a cat on her wedding day, and her tossing an object into a stream if she passes one, saying “Bad luck cleave to you” as she throws it, being careful never to look upon the object again. 

In comparison to the wealth of omens and directives surrounding brides, grooms have a surprisingly carefree wedding day.

 

 

Readers Digest, September 2002