Bridal Crown or Wreath
Bridal Crown Or Wreath
(στεφάνωμα). To crown a pair about to be married with a garland of flowers, or even of metals and precious stones, is a very ancient part of the marriage ceremony, both in paganism and Christendom. The usage was adopted in the early Church, but not without opposition. Tertullian called it "an idolatrous rite" (De cor. milit. c. 13-15. See also Justin, Apol. c. ix). At a later period it became general, and it is spoken of with approval by the fathers of the 4th and 5th centuries. Chrysostom mentions the ceremony as follows: " Crowns are therefore put upon their heads as symbols of victory;" i.e. it was supposed that the betrothed persons had, before nuptials, striven virtuously against all manner of uncleanness (Chrysostom, Hom. IX in 1 Tim.). It appears, therefore, that the honor of crowning was not given to fornicators when they married; nor was the ceremony used in second or third marriages, because, though not held to be unlawful, they were not reckoned as honorable as first marriages. "The chaplets were usually made of myrtle, olive, amaranth, rosemary, and evergreens, intermingled with cypress and vervain. The crown, appropriately so called, was made of olive, myrtle, and rosemary, variegated with flowers, and sometimes with gold and silver, pearls, precious stones, etc. These crowns were constructed in the form of a pyramid or tower. Both the bride and the bridegroom were crowned in this manner, together with the groomsman and the bride-maid. The bride frequently appeared in church thus attired on the day when proclamation of the banns was made. Chaplets were not worn by the parties in case of second marriage, nor by those who had been guilty of impropriety before marriage. In the Greek Church the chaplets were imposed by the officiating minister. He placed the nuptial crowns, which had been lying on the altar, first upon the head of the bridegroom and then upon that of the bride, saying, 'This servant of the Lord hereby crowns this handmaid of the Lord in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, world without end, Amen.' This ceremony was followed by prayers, doxologies, and the reading of the Scriptures, particularly Eph 5:20-33, and Joh 2:1-11, and the alternate prayers of the priest and the deacon. Upon the eighth day the married pair present themselves again in the church, when the minister, with appropriate prayer, lays off the nuptial crown, and dismisses them with a blessing." In the Western Church veils gradually took the place of bridal crowns, though both are sometimes used. In Germany the wreaths are still very generally used Coleman, Ancient Christianity, ch. 24:§ 4; Bingham, Orig. Eccles. bk. 22:ch. 4:§ 6; Herzog, Real-Encyk. ii, 346; Siegel, Handb. der Alterthiumer, ii, 13.