Lucky June Weddings

One of the oldest beliefs concerning the date of a wedding is that all marriages in May are unlucky. Several popular sayings refer to this superstition: ‘Marry in May, you’ll rue the day’, or: ‘From the marriages in May all the bairns die and decay’. 

This curious belief seems to have been passed down from the Greeks and Romans. Plutarch, the famous Greek philosopher and essayist, explains that May is linked with ill luck because it falls between two auspicious months: April, dedicated to the goddess Venus, and June, dedicated to the goddess Juno. May is also referred to by the Roman poet Ovid in his work, Fasti, where he speaks about the ill luck associated with weddings during this month. As Romans celebrated the festival of Bona Dea, the goddess of chastity, as well as the Feast of the Dead called Lemuralia during May, it is obvious why weddings were unpopular during this time. 

However, there is an added reason for the month’s ill-repute. May is named after Maia, an incarnation of the Earth Mother and wife of the Roman god Vulcan, a most ancient god of war, to whom human sacrifices were made. Besides being the goddess of fertility, Maia was also the patroness of the aged, hence not a suitable deity to have watching over young lovers. 

A further reason May is considered the unluckiest month of the year for weddings is probably because of practicality. In olden times, the fulfilment of the promise of spring during May was welcomed with an abandonment of joy, which is perhaps difficult for us to understand in an age of comfort and excess. After the long, cold European winters, the countryside was starting to blossom in May, and there was much work to be done as this was the month best suited for sowing and planting crops. Every pair of hands was needed, and no time was set aside for frivolities, hence the saying: ‘Who marries between the sickle and the scythe will never thrive’. 

A fortunate month for weddings has always been June. This month was named after the Roman goddess Juno, married to the supreme god Jupiter. Juno was considered the patroness of the young and the protector of women and matrimony. It was believed that she bestowed special blessings on those who wed in her month, bringing prosperity to the man and happiness to the woman. This tradition was passed on from the Romans to other European countries, and even now, June weddings are very popular, although the original reasons behind the custom have long been lost in obscurity. 

Besides May weddings being unpopular in the past, there were specific times of the year that the Church considered unacceptable for weddings. For instance, all penitential days were thought unsuitable for the joyous ceremony of marriage, hence the saying: ‘Marry in Lent, you’ll live to repent’. Similarly, Advent was regarded as an unlucky period in which to wed. In Scotland, December 31 was considered the most popular day for weddings. The whole world celebrates on this day, and for the rest of the couples’ married life, their anniversary is celebrated by all.

Not only the month, but also the day of the week was considered of great importance for a wedding. Friday has always been regarded as unlucky in Christian countries, while Sunday was seen as a most propitious day for a wedding. The following old English rhyme advises:

Monday for health,

Tuesday for wealth,

Wednesday the best day of all,

Thursday for losses,

Friday for crosses, 

And Saturday no luck at all.

However, despite what the rhyme intones, weddings are usually held on Saturdays in modern times, this day of the week being the most convenient and suitable for all concerned. 

In the past, even the time of day for the wedding was of paramount importance. A wedding after sunset was thought to result in a joyless marriage, the loss of children, and an early grave. Postponing a wedding was also considered unlucky and seen as an almost certain sign that bride or groom would die within a short time – once the date was set, it had to be adhered to. 

Another important aspect in the choice of the wedding date was for the moon to be on the increase, as falling fortunes and failure were thought to come with the waning moon. Along the coastal areas of England, the tides were also considered favorable for the marriage ceremony. From the Orkney Islands, comes the following saying: ‘No couple chooses marriage except with a growing moon and a flowing tide’.


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