Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Order of the Garter

It is amazing what a person can save in an old trunk.

A garter, articles of clothing: narrow bands of fabric fastened about the leg, used to keep stockings up, is often worn by newlywed brides.

It is the groom's privilege to remove the garter and toss it to the male guests. The symbolism to deflowering is unambiguous.

Historically, this tradition also relates to the belief that taking an article of the bride's clothing would bring good luck.

As this often resulted in the destruction of the bride's dress, the tradition arose for the bride to toss articles of clothing to the guests, including the garter.

Another superstition that has circulated is the male equivalent of the bride throwing her bouquet to the unmarried ladies, i.e., the unmarried male wedding guest who successfully caught the garter was believed to be the next man to be headed to the altar from the group of single men at that wedding.

Traditionally, the man who caught the garter and the lady who caught the bouquet will share the next dance.

There was a time, long, long ago, when guys in their early 20's decided to get hitched up to the girl they were presently dating. It was a time to settle down and become responsible.

But this ritual of the garter caught my fancy. I caught many garters and in one wedding the groom came over and handed me the garter. I think he was trying to tell me something.

The fascination with garters and what the represented overcame me and I recommended every young woman that I knew to wear them.

On one occasion, I was given permission to remove the garter by the new bride. I was the last man to touch her thigh before her betrothed looked on.

I saved these garters, like a solider wears metals or a sportsman displays trophies. Red, white, black, silk, lace, some embellished with hearts while others had pearls; they all were put away to remember at some later date.

All but one are gone now, but for some reason, I kept this black velvet garter. I want to believe I know why, but it is only a dream.

I will put it on my sleeve, the way I used to display them, and wear it proudly, without fully understanding the significance of saving this piece of cloth for so long.

It was important then and is still important now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Black garter is equivalent to a black armband . . . because marriage is the death of hope.

Cynically yours,