Lucky and Unlucky Months - Origin of these Beliefs - Ill-omened May - The Day on which to be Married - The Superstition which Forbids a Friday
Since the choice of a suitable month and day for her wedding is often a heart-searching problem lor the bride-elect, some of the quaint old rhymes and adages given below may assist her to decide this all-important matter.
According to old-time superstition, each month portended a different fate for the bridal pair, and sometimes different versions were given for the same month; but the following is the most popular version of these beliefs:
" Married in January's hoar and rime, Widowed you'll be before your prime. Married in February's sleepy weather, Life you'll tread in tune together. Married when March winds shrill and roar, Your home will lie on a distant shore. Married 'neath April's changeful skies, A chequered path before you lies. Married when bees o'er May blossoms flit, Strangers around your board will sit. Married in month of roses - June - Life will be one long honeymoon. Married in July, with flowers ablaze, Bitter-sweet mem'ries in after days. Married in August's heat and drowse, Lover and friend in your chosen spouse. Married in September's golden glow, Smooth and serene your life will go. Married when leaves in October thin, Toil and hardships for you begin. Married in veils of November mist, Fortune your wedding-ring has kissed. Married in days of December cheer, Love's star shines brighter from year to year."
From the above it may be gathered that Fortune especially favours, or prefers, February, June, August, and September, and the two closing months of the year. "Bitter-sweet mem'ries in after days," seems a haunting line for July that recurs often to the mind, as if it hinted at some subtle tragedy instead of love's sunshine.
A variation of these lines still blesses February, June, September, as well as November and December; but prohibits May, and denies wealth for July and October.
" Marry when the year is new, Always loving, kind, and true. When February birds do mate, You may wed, nor dread your fate.
If you wed when March winds blow, Joy and sorrow both you'll know. Marry in April when you can, Joy for maiden and for man. Marry in the month of May, You will surely rue the day. Marry when June roses blow, Over land and sea you'll go. They who in July do wed Must labour always for their bread. Whoever wed in August be, Many a change are sure to see. Marry in September's shine, Your living will be fair and fine. If in October you do marry, Love will come, but riches tarry. If you wed in bleak November, Only joy will come, remember. When December's snows fall fast, Marry, and true love will last."
Reasons for these Beliefs
From the latter it will be seen that June-married folk are supposed to be the voyagers instead of the April couples, also that January is here accounted a lucky marriage month. Possibly the favourite times of all are April, June, and November.
April because Lent is over and the earth is re-awakening, and the world seems full of the songs of birds and the sweet spring blossoms, and the lovers' hearts echo a responsive thrill to the gladness of Nature.
As Tennyson wrote:
"In the spring a young man's fancy Lightly turns to thoughts of love."
Or, as Ouida phrased it, "When love walks amongst the flowers, and comes a step nearer what it seeks with every dawn."
Another reason, too, for the popularity of April may be sought and found in the fact that its successor month - May - is practically shunned for weddings. So ancient is the dislike to May marriages, that Ovid refers to it as "the evil month of May" for them. In the Highlands it is sometimes called the "dismal" month, and May 3rd in particular, "La sheachanna na bleanagh," which signifies" the dismal day."
Jeaffreson, who is usually regarded as a good authority upon matters matrimonial, traces this aversion of the May marriage, with its sinister reputation, to the clear rule of the
Church forbidding weddings between Rogation and Whit Sunday, so that, when the Church prohibited weddings during the chief part of May, pious and nervous folk originated the familiar line:
" Marry in May; and you'll rue the day." And, undoubtedly, it must be admitted that May unions do not, on the whole, prove especially blessed.
Lent, of course, was another forbidden period, as it has always been considered that a time of penitence and fasting is quite unsuitable to the gladness and festivity of a wedding. June, however, has always been considered the month for weddings, and Roman maidens preferred it to any other, because it was the name-month of Juno, the goddess who took love matters and all feminine interests especially under her protection, and was therefore considered the "Bona Dea" of weddings indeed. In pre-reformation times there were only thirty-two weeks out of the fifty-two in which either the pious or superstitious could marry in spiritual or mental ease, unless (in the case of the former) they purchased a special dispensation, because the Church forbade marriage between Advent and Hilary (January 13th), and from the commencement of Lent till eight days after Easter, and again between Rogation and Trinity.
The following is from an entry in the register of Beverley (St. Mary), November 26th, 1641:
"When Advent comes do thou refraine, Till Hillary set ye free againe; Next Septuagesima saith thee nay, But when Lowe Sunday comes thou may; But at Rogation thou must tarry, Till Trinite shall bid thee marry."
In a delightful old almanac for the year 1559, by Lewis Vaughan, made for "the merydian of Gloucestre," the following quaint notice appears: "The tymes of weddinges when it begynneth and endeth. Jan. 14, wedding begin. Jan. 21, weddinge 50th out. April 3, wedding be. April 29, wedding goth out. May 22, wedding begyn."
And from still another old source - the Almanac Galen, 1642 - we learn:
"Times prohibiting marriage this year: From the 27 of November till January 13, From Februarie 6 untill April 18, From May 16 untill June 6." This still further reduces the allotted weeks to twenty out of the entire year.
But since those days neither Act of Parliament or Canon of the Church has forbidden weddings at any special season of the year, and it is really good feeling which precludes Advent and Lent and superstition which avoids May.
Having chosen the month, next the day of the week must be decided upon, and here we find:
" Monday for wealth, Tuesday for health, Wednesday the best day of all, Thursday for losses, Friday for crosses, And Saturday no luck at all."
Sunday, which in Elizabethan times was the day of days for weddings, now is never regarded as a suitable day. This may be accounted for by two reasons - the influence of the Puritans, and also one's natural sense of decorum that the Sunday is a day for worship rather than weddings. As the authors of the "Directory for Public Worship" (1644) persuasively say, "We advise it be not on the Lord's Day."
In Ireland no colleen dares to marry in Lent or on any public fast, nor cares to on Christmas Day, Easter Day, Ascensiontide, or Whit Sunday, in memory of the Canon of the Irish Protestant Episcopal Church, which in 1639 forbade weddings on those occasions.
In Scotland the lassies greatly favour New Year's Day, with the idea of commencing their newly married life at the commencement of the New Year. Others, on the other hand, choose the last day of the Old Year, so that they may " ring out the old, ring in the new " together, and also avoid a superstition, which prevails in some parts of Scotland, that it is unlucky to have your banns called in one year, or one quarter of the year, and be married in another.