Mothers often times pass heirlooms to their daughters to incorporate into a wedding outfit. These heirlooms could be something old, something new, something borrowed, or something blue. According to Weddingbee, an online site, this saying is based on an ancient English poem:
Something old, something new
Something borrowed, something blue
And a silver sixpence in her shoe.
Each item is a bride’s good luck token. A bride who carries all four items on her wedding day will have a happy marriage according to American tradition.
Anna D. H. Kudak, adjunct communication professor at the University of St. Thomas who has based her research in rituals in interpersonal relationships, says the tradition is common but what makes it important for mothers and daughters is that it is customizable.
“They can include items that are important to them, while also partaking in a broader ritual enacted by many others,” said Kudak who co-authored a book on traditions, What Happy Women Do.
Generations could pass on a handkerchief symbolizing something old to a new bride. Weddingbee states that something old symbolizes continuity with the bride’s family and past.
North Dakota State University student, Jenessa (Sjol) Fritel, kept a handkerchief with her on July 24, 2010, symbolizing something old from her mother, Julie Sjol. Fritel says the handkerchief was like having a piece of her great-grandma Louise with her on such a special day.
“I am sure it meant a lot to my mom since it was her grandmothers and she loved her grandmother very much,” said Fritel.
According to Kudak, not only is it important to have something old, but also something new representing the hope that daughters and their new husbands will be hopeful in their future together.
“It is important for mothers to communicate that hope to their daughters on their wedding day,” Kudak said.
Kathy Nelson, rural resident of Lancaster, Minn., was 100 percent supportive when her daughter, Chelsi (Nelson) Langehaug, wanted a custom-made wedding dress to wear at her wedding July 3, 2010. Langehaug claims that having a new wedding dress added to the excitement of the day.
“I associated the dress with a lot of happy thoughts and memories,” said Langehaug, currently a fourth-year NDSU accounting student. “Having a new wedding dress was a tradition I could start.”
At other times, a bride may borrow something symbolizing to the bride that friends and family will be there for her on the special day. Weddingbee states that something borrowed is an item from a happily married friend or family member, whose good fortune in marriage is supposed to carry over to the new bride.
As Sara Elzen walks down the aisle to become Mrs. Kelly Markham on October 1, 2011, she will borrow a beautifully blue and brilliantly designed sapphire and diamond necklace from her mother, Pam Elzen, a happily married woman and resident of Medford, Minn. Pam Elzen received the necklace as gift from her father, Bob Anhorn, at the age of 16.
“This necklace just symbolizes my family,” said Sara Elzen of the 35-year-old piece of jewelry.
Not only does this necklace symbolize something borrowed, it symbolizes something blue, representing faithfulness, loyalty, and purity for Sara Elzen to cherish on her wedding day.
“When a mother passes something down to her daughter on her wedding day, she is communicating several symbolic messages,” said Kudak. “She is telling her daughter, without words, that she supports her daughter’s marriage and believes in them as a couple, so much that she’s willing to part with something that is meaningful to them.”