Oh Just "Something" You Do
By Anna Cooper
Brides all over the world have followed this historic rhyme. It goes all the way back to the Victorian era, but what exactly does it mean, where does it come from, and why did it become a tradition?
The first part of this very British rhyme was originally included to protect the future children of the bride. Infertility was and is a major problem that many women face, but having “Something Old” was thought to protect from that. The “Old” something was originally intended to be an item from a previous happy bride that had a successful marriage. Today, anything you find meaningful can be your Something Old. Many people have jewelry from a bygone era, but many other things can be used. This tradition transfers luck to the new bride with help from previous ones.
The “Something New” in the rhyme offers brides an optimistic future because she is starting a new chapter in her life. Offering this “Something New” to the marriage will help the couple remain happy and have a prosperous future. When you start picking out wedding outfits, you can pretty much count on this portion of the rhyme being fulfilled. “Something New” can be any new thing the bride wears, from the dress to jewelry and everything in-between.
Heirlooms, tokens from friends, and objects with sentimental value are all great items to look for when searching for “Something Borrowed.” This item is meant to bring good luck. The good fortune from this “Something” is said to rub off on the new couple from whomever it is borrowed from. Originally, the bride was supposed to borrow foundation garments from someone already in a fortunate marriage. This was thought to also help with fertility. Borrowing something from someone today helps you have a piece of them with you when walking down the aisle.
People in the olden days were really worried about evil and how it can devastate a marriage. “Something Blue” was used to baffle and deflect evil. Blue was used instead of any other color because of its significance: it represents love, purity, and fidelity. These three things are important cornerstones of a marriage—without them, it will surely crumble. Traditionally, the bride's garter was what women had as their “Something Blue.” They did this because it wouldn’t be seen and ruin the purity of her white dress. When it comes to your “Something Blue,” consider adding blue accents to your outfit; stitching, shoes, jewelry—whatever fits best with the theme of your wedding.
Sixpence in your Shoe
In the United States, the final line is often not quoted. Because, well, first of all, we don’t have pence, we have cents. Why exactly was this line added in the first place? A sixpence coin was added to promote prosperity in the impending marriage. Just like the previous pieces of the rhyme, it wards off bad luck and infertility. The sixpence is an integral portion of the tradition. It doesn’t have to be a sixpence you put in your shoe to project fortune, prosperity, and health. Some people will tell you to add pennies to your left shoe and it’ll work just as well, "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, and Six Cents in her Shoe."
Every time you hear this rhyme the integral parts remain the same even though the wording changes. Overall, everyone agrees with the main “Somethings,” but you can see words such as silver added before sixpence or even a total word change. A lot of the story that goes with this rhyme refers to evil or the evil eye that can affect a bride on her big day and in the following years. Whether you’re superstitious or not, this beloved tradition allows mothers and grandmothers to impart wisdom and wish luck to the future bride as well as reminisce about their own wedding day. This tradition bridges the gap between ‘old’ and ‘new’ experiences creating special memories for everyone involved.