Embarrassing as it may be for a young couple, fertility was a big part of many wedding traditions including the tradition of throwing rice. This tradition, which dates back to ancient Rome or perhaps even ancient Egypt, Assyria and Israel, was intended to represent fertility and good luck. In general any seed or nut item represented fertility and abundance since the seed was the basis of most food supplies. Some European countries actually threw eggs, the ultimate symbol of fertility! (CAN YOU IMAGINE!!!!) Most cultures highly valued fertility as children enabled the couple to work the fields and care for them in their old age.
The type of seed varied in various cultures and could include wheat, rice or others. In particular, Romans choose wheat, as it was the grain that represented fertility in their culture. In fact, a Roman bride commonly wore a garland of wheat on her head and carried a “bouquet” of wheat in her hands. In Morocco, dates, raisons and figs were thrown to encourage a fruitful union. In Italy sweets and sugar coated nuts were used. In fact, the term confetti may come from the Italian word for confectionery!
During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in England wheat cakes were used. This tradition consisted of crumbling the dry cake and tossing it over the bride’s head. This fertility tradition is thought to have evolved into the eating of cake and perhaps the smearing of it in the brides face! So guys, if you plan to smear the cake, make sure you understand the implications!!!
In the US, rice became the typical seed to throw until the late part of the 20th century when birdseed became popular because of an urban legend that rice, if eaten by the birds, would result in death. (By the way, this has been proven wrong!)
Many venues have stopped the tradition due to the cost and difficulty of clean up and the concern that people may slip and fall. New twists on this very old tradition are the throwing of flower petals and blowing bubbles. No matter what you use, make sure you check with the church, synagogue or venue as many now have restrictions.
One thing that all people do agree with is that showering the newly weds with any of these items is a fun way to send the couple off to their honeymoon, creates great photographs and gets the guests involved in the festivities!