News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 30, 2012

HISTORICAL TREASURE: Veiled history wards off demons

By Jan Buffington
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Why do many brides wear a veil? When looking back into history, you find that in ancient times, brides wore a scarlet veil and used beautifully dressed maids in the ceremony to confuse evil spirits away from her and bring her good luck. At that time, too, many brides wore their hair in waxed spikes for extra defense to ward off demons.

When marriages were a financial arrangement between the groom and the father of the bride, brides and grooms may not have met before the wedding. For the ceremony, the bride would have been dressed in a heavy veil. This was done to insure that once he lifted the veil after being pronounced married, the groom could not back out of the deal in case he thought she was ugly.

Later in history, brides wore a veil to signify purity, modesty, virginity, and her willingness to submit to her husband. Today, few brides worry about past superstitions and traditions. She wears a veil to compliment the style and color of her beautiful gown and complete the look.

Veils can be as small as a net head-covering called a birdcage, have multiple layers, or be as long as she wants. Star Jones of “The View” had a 27 foot cathedral length veil (2 feet longer then Princes Di’s). Usually, the veil is the same color as her dress. Lace, tulle, or netting are materials used for veils. A veil can have a variety of edging from a simple cut edge to gold or silver embellishments, sparkles, embroidery, lace, satin ribbon or cord, velvet ribbon, and more. The veil can be decorated with embroidery, lace, sparkles, etc.

To keep the veil on her head, the bride may use pins to hold a draped veil; use a crown, head band, or tiara; have a wreath of real, wax, or fabric flowers; ribbon bows; or a hat such as a skull cap, pill box, western style, etc. Some veils are gathered onto a clip that is hidden under an attractive hair arrangement.

Today’s Historical Treasure is part of our current exhibit “Here Comes the Bride.” There are veils and headpieces with the dresses as well as in cases. Come in to the Museum and enjoy this beautiful exhibit.