Hillbilly Weddings

The phrase “hillbilly weddings” is a search term that keeps popping up on my blog stats. It pops up so often that I figured I would go ahead and indulge those of you who are desperately looking for information on hill folk nuptials.   I get a lot of “what does a hillbilly look like” too, but I think that one is going to take a little more thought to answer properly.  

Vance Randolph is still considered the pentultimate collector of old time Ozark hill folk knowledge.  In his book Ozark Magic and Folklore, he details several superstitions associated with hill folk marriages.

Timing of the Wedding

Randolph writes that the timing of a marriage is determined via phases of the moon and “zodiac signs,” which means that the process is quite variable.  However, he notes that “Many old-timers believe that marriages consummated at the full moon, or when the moon is waxing and near the full, are the happiest and most prosperous . .  . Many hillfolk believe that June weddings, consummated when the moon is full, are best of all.  However, marriages in January are highly regarded . . .according to the old rhyme ‘marry when the year is new/Your mate will be constant, kind and true'” (186-187).

May weddings are apparently bad luck. Rainy or snowy weather is also bad luck, as is marrying when “the wild hawthorn or redhaw is in bloom” (187).   Randolph says that still others think that marriages should happen only in the sign of Scorpio, when “the sign is in the loins” (187).  

Weddings and Weather

Weather on the wedding day is extremely important to predicting the nature of married life. A sunny morning and a rainy afternoon, for example, predict the tenor of the marriage.  It will be happy at the start and miserable at the end.   Randolph also notes that the day after the wedding is just as important for this purpose.  “The day after the wedding, when the ‘infare’ dinner is held at the home of the bridegroom’s parents, is known as the man’s day, and the same weather signs indicate his future happiness or unhappiness” (187).  This passage also points out a custom missing from most modern marriages. The ‘infare’ that Randolph mentions here is apparently a sort of inverse of the rehearsal dinner, hosted by the groom’s parents at their home.  

Rings

According to Randolph, couples should never buy their rings from a store to ward against the ring having absorbed bad energy. They should order it from a catalog instead (187-188).

Wedding Ceremony  and Garments

Randolph collects several instances of superstitions about stance during the ceremony itself. “A couple being married should stand with their feet parallel to the cracks in the floor, as to stand crosswise invites bad luck and evil spirits” (188).   A bride should always step with her right foot after the ceremony, as to step with the left invites bad luck.   Seeing a “toad in the path” immediately after the ceremony is considered good luck as well.  

Brides should always make their own wedding dresses, because otherwise, friends and family members will secretly put pieces of their own hair into the dress hems.  This is, according to Randolph, a kind of curse or “conjure” that “benefits the owner of the hair at the poor bride’s expense” (189).     After dressing, a bride should not look into the mirror until the ceremony is over in order to avoid bad luck (190).   Grooms are advised to wear their new wedding suit for several months after the wedding, but there is apparently no such requirement for brides.  The only stipulation is that my not sell their wedding garments (191).

Randolph also quotes several rhymes that make up superstition about dress color.   The shortest one he quotes comes from Harrison, Arkansas.  “Blue is true/Yaller’s jealous/Green’s forsaken/Red is brazen/White is love/and Black is death” (189). 

Housekeeping

Apparently it is extremely bad luck to set up a new house with a brand new coffeepot. All coffeepots must be used (191).

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