#136 Rituals and Traditions with Author Eleni Gage


April 3rd, 2019

1 hr 2 mins 32 secs

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About this Episode

There are SO many cool examples of lucky symbols, tradition, and rituals in this episode, and Eleni’s book goes into detail about all of them...from burying a bottle of bourbon one month before the wedding, to tucking a penny in your shoe...there are plenty of ways to cross your fingers and wish on a star about your wedding day and DURING your wedding day. Fun stuff!

A novelist and journalist who spent three years as the Executive Editor at Martha Stewart Weddings Magazine, Eleni Gage was struck by the fact that every engaged couple wants the same thing: a meaningful, one-of-a-kind wedding and a lifetime of happiness. But so many of them don't know where to start when it comes to planning that unforgettable day and filling it with significance. Having earned a degree in Folklore and Mythology from Harvard University, she decided to change that by writing Lucky in Love: Traditions, Customs, & Rituals to Personalize Your Wedding. A collection of cross-cultural connections from all over the world that focus on bringing luck to couples getting married, it's also a guide to planning a day that is unique, auspicious and utterly personal in the best way possible. Or, as Eleni likes to say, "A wedding is equal parts planning and magic. There are plenty of books devoted to the planning. This one brings the magic." She's joining us from New York, where she lives with her Nicaraguan husband—whom she married in not one but two ceremonies on the Greek island of Corfu on 10.10.10—and their two Greekaraguan children.

Big Takeaways
Eleni grew up in a big Greek family and incorporated a lot of those traditions into her own Big Fat Greek Wedding. She studied folklore in college and learned that most rituals in life happen around transitions...life changes, when there is a lot at stake. We develop rituals to help us think we have control over things we don’t have control over. No matter what religion you are, everyone believes in LUCK, to some extent! At the very least, no one embraces bad luck, so a wish for good luck is just natural.
It’s more than just ‘Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Something Old, Something New’ - but this is a fun little rhyme that everyone seems to know about (for good luck in the marriage), at least in America. What’s the background of it? It’s an old English rhyme and it represents the past, the future, the community and then blue is a symbol of fidelity and it’s also a religious color. Also, the rhyme continues to say ‘And a sixpence in her shoe’ so brides would put a penny in their shoes for fortune and financial security.
A wonderful ( and easy) place to incorporate some family or cultural traditions is in the ceremony: the wedding vows themselves or the actions during the ceremony, like hand fasting.
Experience your wedding day WITH your village, your tribe. Everyone there is there for a reason. It’s quality, not quantity! Let your guests in on some of the fun traditions you include! These things don’t need to have a lot of weight...if you like pie and you want to have pie in your wedding instead of cake and there’s a reason you both love it so much...put a little note about the pie recipes on the table, or a cute sign about how you ate pie on your first date. Let people know why you love it so!
Food can be meaningful if you put together a deliberate menu for the reception. Wedding cakes, for example, represent fertility, traditionally, but also they can be a wish for a sweet life! Salt brings longevity, honey brings sweetness, fish and pomegranates are lucky. Embracing the aspects you like about wedding traditions might make the day even more meaningful for you. Or! You can turn symbolism on it’s side with some of these traditional things...do it, but do it your way. It’s not just what you serve, it’s how and when you serve it.
Colors! There’s a whole chapter dedicated to color in the book and it was one of our favorites. Here are a few examples: Blue is a big color in religious paintings and is also a color that ‘fights the evil eye’. White is associated with light, goodness, innocence, purity, and virginity (yep). You get the picture. If you have your heart set on certain colors for the wedding, you can look up what those colors symbolize - just so you know!
Links we referenced
Buy the book! https://www.amazon.com/Lucky-Love-Traditions-Customs-Personalize/dp/0525573909/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=eleni+gage&qid=1554245442&s=gateway&sr=8-1
Eleni’s site: https://elenigage.com
More Labs, Morning Recovery: https://www.morelabs.com/pages/the-big-wedding-planning-podcast

“I wrote my college application essay about growing up and my Aunt reading my future in Greek coffee grounds. She would use it as an opportunity for mind control and say what she wanted to happen.” - Eleni, on how her family bonded

“You can pick and choose. You think that’s cool? Put it in your wedding! Make it your own.” - Christy

“It’s not about taking a ritual from another culture and adopting it wholesale. It’s about looking at the parts of it that inspire you and working it into your wedding. Make it meaningful and personal to you and do it in a way that your guests’ recognize.” - Eleni

“I think looking through the course of your relationship is a great place to start with both writing a ceremony script, and also to find threads that go through your relationship that you have noticed and then you can mine and bring them out in your wedding.” - Christy

“Thinking about breaking bread...there are a million ways to do it and lots of cultures have an element of this.” - Christy, on elevated carbs

“A wedding is an excuse to offer hospitality. And every culture has the same underlying themes. We want our children to be happy. We want to offer hospitality. We want love and luck and beauty and to be with our friends. And that is really inspiring.” - Eleni

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