The Origin Of Throwing Rice At Weddings

Weddings are weird. Where else do you expect a room full of your friends to watch you exchange jewelry under the guidance of clergy? And when the ceremony is over, many brides and grooms are pelted with rice. Before you whip a handful of starch at your newly married friends, let's examine why.

Food Fight

The custom began with the ancient Romans, and is meant to wish fertility for the newlyweds. Originally, Romans threw wheat, but soon afterward, rice became a universal symbol for fertility. (Imagine the conversation that went down when someone decided rice made more sense than wheat as a fertility symbol.)

In some versions of the tradition, the rice or wheat is eaten after it is thrown, which is meant as a compliment to the bride, but probably involves more dirt in your mouth than you typically want. Today, Italian weddings end with candy and sugared nuts being thrown at newlyweds. In Morocco, they lob raisins.

The rice toss lost some luster in recent years after a rumor that birds' stomachs would explode if they ate the rice. The rumor is false. That didn't stop Connecticut state legislator from introducing a bill in 1985 that would have banned the practice. Today, thankfully, you're free to throw rice as often as you like without fear of harming our feathered friends. Happy tossing!

If you'd like to learn more about how wedding traditions began, check out "I do! I do! The Origins of 100 Classic Wedding Traditions" by Susan Waggonner. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.  

Hear Dr. Eli Finkel, relationship expert, explain how the best marriages work on the Curiosity Podcast. Stream or download the episode using the player below, or find it everywhere podcasts are found, including iTunes, Stitcher, and Gretta.

Why Do We Throw Rice At Weddings?

It's sweet, but really strange.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Throwing rice at weddings is a tradition that wishes fertility upon the newlywed couple. 00:10

  2. Ancient Romans threw wheat at weddings. 00:26

  3. Rice is a universal symbol for fertility. 00:44

Written by Ben Bowman August 14, 2017

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