Why do we throw rice at weddings?

10 December 2018

Throwing rice to the couple at the end of the celebration is a tradition. Generally, when we decide to follow this practice, we give out several little pockets of raw rice to the guests, who have to “toss” it at the couple getting out of the church. But where was this tradition born?

Where the tradition was born

The white wedding dress, the exchange of rings and rice are traditions that a lot of people usually follow the day of their wedding. Throwing a handful of rice in the air (and on the couple) has always been a wish of luck for the future. This practice goes back to the ancient romans who used to use wheat or oat seeds, associated to the birth of a new life. This way, the guests symbolically wish the couple a life full of joy.

perché si lancia il riso ai matrimoni

Even in the following years the tradition carried on with corn and other cereals. Only during the Middle Age rice replaced wheat because of its symbolical meaning. At that time, rice was thought to help women get pregnant  and pull away evil spirits.

In England, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, tradition wanted to throw pieces of wheat cake to the bride; while according to a Chinese myth, a good whiz helped farmers spreading its teeth in a swamp. After sowing, plants with white flowers bloomed from the teeth, as a symbol of wealth and abundance.

Throwing rice at weddings: a lost tradition?

Although the launch of rice has always been a recurring tradition in Italy, in the recent years it has begun to slip for various reasons. For example, some wedding sites ban the use of rice because of cleaning and safety reasons (guests could slip on the fallen grains).

palloncini matrimonio

In addition, some couples decide to be welcomed in an different way. Many guests choose to toss rose petals, confetti and soap bubbles, but also colored balloons or luminous lanterns.

Another tradition is to free two doves, a male and a female, because it’s a symbol of an harmonious coupledom.

Weddings and traditions in the world

As said above, throwing rice at the end of a wedding ceremony is really popular in Italy, but every country has its own traditions and rituals. In Venezuela, for example, running away from your own wedding is a wish of good luck; while in Sweden, putting a myrtle stick in the bride’s bouquet symbolizes love. In African weddings, the color of the wedding dress has an allegorical meaning: golden, for instance, represents prosperity and green means life. In China, couples usually have a “tea ceremony” with friends and family, in order to show their love and share happy moments.