Items chosen to bring good luck to the bride. In this case, the veil was borrowed and the handkerchief was new.
A bride's lucky sixpence
A British Victorian sixpence, traditionally worn in the bride's left shoe on her wedding day.

"Something old" is the first line of a traditional rhyme that details what a bride should wear at her wedding for good luck:

Something old,
something new,
something borrowed,
something blue,
and a [silver] sixpence in her shoe.

The old item provides protection for the baby to come. The new item offers optimism for the future. The item borrowed from another happily married couple provides good luck. The colour blue is a sign of purity and fidelity. The sixpence — a British silver coin — is a symbol of prosperity or acts as a ward against evil done by frustrated suitors.

Folklore

An 1898 compilation of English folklore recounted that:

In this country an old couplet directs that the bride shall wear:—"Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue." "The something blue" takes, I am given to understand, usually the form of a garter, an article of dress which plays an important part in some wedding rites, as, for instance, in the old custom of plucking off the garter of the bride. "The something old" and "something blue" are devices to baffle the Evil Eye. The usual effect on the bride of the Evil Eye is to render her barren, and this is obviated by wearing "something borrowed", which should properly be the undergarment of some woman who has been blessed with children: the clothes communicate fertility to the bride.[1]

The earliest recorded version of the first two lines is in 1871 in the short story, "Marriage Superstitions, and the Miseries of a Bride Elect" in St James' Magazine, when the female narrator states, "On the wedding day I must 'wear something new, something borrowed, something blue.'"[2]

The first recorded version of the rhyme as we now know it (the so-called Lancashire version) was in a 1876 newspaper, which reported a wedding where the bride "wore, according to ancient custom, something old and something new, something borrowed and blue."[3][4]

Another compilation of the era frames this poem as "a Lancashire version", as contrast against a Leicestershire recitation that "a bride on her wedding day should wear—'Something new, Something blue, Something borrowed'...", and so omits the "something old". The authors note that this counters other regional folklore warning against the wearing of blue on the wedding day, but relates the use of the colour to phrases like "true blue" which make positive associations with the colour.[5]

The final line "and a sixpence in her shoe" is a later Victorian addition; the coin should be worn in the left shoe.[4]

In 1894, the saying was recorded in Ireland, in the Annual Report and Proceedings of the Belfast Naturalists' Field Club, where it was attributed to County Monaghan folklore.[6]

The wearing of the five items detailed in the rhyme is still popular in the UK and US.

Historical examples

In 1981, at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, the bride wore:

  • something old – a very special square of Carrickmacross lace attached to Princess Diana's gown that once belonged to Queen Mary[7]
  • something new – silk spun at Lullingstone silk farm in Dorest[7][8]
  • something borrowed – a tiara from the Spencer family collection[7][8]
  • something blue – a blue bow sewn into the waistband of her dress[7][8]

In 2011, at the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, the bride wore:

In 2011, at the wedding of Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall, the bride wore:

In 2018, at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the bride wore:

In 2018, at the wedding of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank, the bride wore:

  • something old – unclear
  • something new – new emerald drop earrings, a gift from the groom[17]
  • something borrowed – the Queen's Greville Emerald Kokoshnik Tiara[17]
  • something blue – blue thistle flowers in her bouquet [17]

In 2020, at the wedding of Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, the bride wore:

In popular culture

Books and movies

Songs

Television

See also

References

  1. ^ Crooke, William (1898). "The Wooing of Penelope". Folklore. 9 (2): 128..
  2. ^ Anon (1871). "Marriage Superstitions, and the Miseries of a Bride Elect, Part II". St James' Magazine. VII. London: Sampson Low: 572.
  3. ^ "Staffordshire Advertiser". 21 October 1876. p. 5.
  4. ^ a b "Something old, something new | Tilly Online".
  5. ^ Firminger, Thomas; Dyer, Thiselton (1905), Folk-lore of women as illustrated by legendary and traditionary tales, p. 45.
  6. ^ Club, Belfast Naturalists' Field (6 January 1894). "Annual Report and Proceedings of the Belfast Naturalists Field Club, ..." – via Google Books.
  7. ^ a b c d "Breaking Down Every Detail on Princess Diana's Iconic Wedding Dress". Town & Country. 30 August 2022. Retrieved 18 January 2024.
  8. ^ a b c Team, T. M. C. (28 July 2020). "9 Facts You Didn't Know About Princess Diana's Wedding Dress". Wedded Wonderland. Retrieved 18 January 2024.
  9. ^ a b c d Kate Middleton's bridal dress designed by Sarah Burton, BBC, 29 April 2011
  10. ^ a b c d Gripper, Ann (29 April 2011), "Kate Middleton's something old, new, borrowed and blue for royal wedding revealed", Daily Mirror
  11. ^ "Zara Phillips jokes: I'll tell my children to take up another sport". The Telegraph. 14 August 2011.
  12. ^ "Zara Tindall's modern twist on her 'something blue' for 2011 wedding to Mike revealed". uk.style.yahoo.com. 28 November 2022.
  13. ^ "Zara Tindall's hidden 'something blue' was wildly unroyal at Mike Tindall wedding". HELLO!. 6 December 2022.
  14. ^ Barry, Anna (14 January 2023). "Zara's 'something blue' at wedding to Mike was very rare". Express.co.uk.
  15. ^ a b c d Abraham, Tamara (20 May 2018). "Meghan Markle's Old, New, Borrowed and Blue Wedding Details". Harper's Bazaar. Archived from the original on 7 June 2023. Retrieved 2 September 2023.
  16. ^ Blomquist, Lilly (29 August 2023). "Meghan Markle's Wedding Dress Designer Reveals Where She Hid Her Secret Something Blue". Brides. Archived from the original on 2 September 2023. Retrieved 2 September 2023.
  17. ^ a b c https://honey.nine.com.au/royals/princess-eugenie-something-blue-revealed/a836e637-ddcf-4dda-861d-abfbb6a7b4e9
  18. ^ "Princess Beatrice Wore A Vintage Wedding Dress Borrowed From The Queen". Grazia. 18 July 2020.
  19. ^ "PICS | Princess Beatrice wears Queen Elizabeth's vintage gown on wedding day". TimesLIVE. 19 July 2020.
  20. ^ "Take A Look Back At The Royal Wedding Tiaras Through History". Grazia. 8 May 2022.
  21. ^ Post, Emily (1905). Purple and Fine Linen. New York: D. Appleton. p. 108.
  22. ^ "Official Charts". OfficialCharts.com. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  23. ^ Doctor Who - The Big Bang, https://www.doctorwho.tv/stories/the-big-bang/