Brides wear veils as part of their wedding attire, primarily to show purity. The bridal veil was originally invented by pagans to ward off evil spirits who might try to take away the purity of the bride. The idea of purity, symbolized through a veil, carried over into the Jewish religion and the Christian religions. The modern bridal veil comes in a variety of styles reflective of modern fashion and taste.
History of the Veil
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The wedding veil dates back to the ancient empires of the Romans and the Greeks. Brides wore veils in pagan wedding ceremonies to protect the bride from evil spirits. The veils worn by brides at this time were brightly colored in red or yellow. Pagans believed that red and yellow were colors that could protect the bride. The veil also symbolized the tradition of protecting the bride from the eyes of the groom. It was considered bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding.
Significance in the Jewish Religion
Brides in the Jewish religion wear a wedding veil to cover the divine light emanating from the bride. The soul of the bride is considered to be pure, divine and holy. The souls of both the bride and groom are in an elevated state during the wedding ceremony, meaning they are closer to God than on a normal daily basis. The veil covers the light which emanates from the bride because it is believed that holiness needs privacy.
Significance in Christian Weddings
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Christian weddings traditionally had the bride and groom wearing crowns of flowers and twigs. This symbolized the sacrifices that both the bride and groom would have to make throughout their marriage. The wedding veil was introduced into the Christian wedding in the early 19th century. Christians began to wear the veil to symbolize to the groom and wedding guests that the bride was pure.
Types of Wedding Veils
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Veils that were made during pagan times were made primarily out of a thin yellow or red cloth. Jewish wedding ceremonies introduced the white veil into bridal fashion. Jewish brides traditionally wore long, white lace veils that covered the brides face and body. Wedding veils that cover the entire body can still be found today in bridal fashion. Modern bridal fashion offers a variety of lengths for bridal veils. Veils can be as long as the train of the wedding dress or so short that the hem of the veil barely touches the shoulders of the bride.
Features of Modern Veils
Veils are primarily made from lace or tulle and they have two parts; one part that stays stationary in the back of the head and the other part which is draped over the bride’s face. The part of the veil which drapes over the bride’s face is lifted at the end of the wedding ceremony and placed on the back of the head. The lace or tulle used for wedding veils is either white or off-white. The type of white used in the veil does not have any significance; the bride chooses white or off-white depending on which color she feels compliments her skin tone the best.
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Cathy O'Brien is a San Francisco/Bay Area native. She has 15 years of experience writing corporate training materials. Her corporate background is in human resources, sales, management and high-tech start-ups. O'Brien has published business and fashion articles on eHow and Answerbag. She earned her Master of Business Administration from Dominican University and her Bachelor of Arts in English/writing from the University of San Francisco.