The wedding veil may be considered old-fashioned, but it remains one of the most recognisable symbols of a bride. Many brides do not consider their wedding outfit complete until it is topped off by a frothy concoction of tulle or silk. The styles may have changed from the earliest of historical veils, but the tradition continues.
Wedding veils are thought to have first appeared during the Greek and Roman classical periods. Veils during this time were brightly coloured. During medieval times, veils were the height of fashion, often appearing attached to conical hats. Since then, the hats have shrunk in height, but the veils have not disappeared.
Veils may have been worn during the Greek period and throughout the Middle Ages as a method for disguising the bride from the eyes of evil spirits. If the bride's face could not be seen, spirits and evildoers would not be tempted to steal her way. Other superstitions involve the bride not seeing herself in both her gown and veil before the wedding, or bad luck with follow. Wearing the veil of a happily married woman is considered a way to ensure a joyful marriage.
Veils were, and still are, worn for religious purposes. In many religious traditions, including some sects of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, the head should be covered when in a place of worship as a sign of humility before God. The veil, particularly if attached to a small cap, fulfils this need.
Wedding veils may have developed from the early practice of arranged marriages. The bride's face was not revealed until the marriage was complete, in order to prevent the groom from backing out of the arrangement. Brides around the world wear veils, although they may be made out of different colours and come in a variety of shapes. Chinese brides often wear red, a lucky colour, on their wedding day.
In the west, white is considered a colour of purity, and the veil mirrors this by representing modesty and chastity. Since bridal veils became popular in the west, starting during the Victorian period, they were reserved for first-time brides. However, the decision is left up to the modern bride. Many women choose to wear them, not as a guard against evil spirits, but as a way to accentuate their features and add another layer of tradition to their wedding outfit.
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