Something old

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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 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 sixpence in her shoe.

The old item provided protection for the baby to come. The item borrowed from another happy bride provided good luck. The colour blue was a sign of fidelity. The sixpence—a silver British coin—was a symbol of prosperity or acted as a ward against evil done by frustrated suitors. 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 color to phrases like "true blue" which make positive associations with the color.[5]

The final line "and a sixpence in her shoe" is a later Victorian addition; the coin should be worn in the left shoe.[6]

By 1905, the full rhyme had crossed the Atlantic to the USA and appeared in the novel Purple and Fine Linen by Emily Post. [7] The wearing of the five items detailed in the rhyme is still popular in the UK and USA.


Historical examples[edit]

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

In popular culture[edit]

  • The 1971 single "Something Old, Something New" by The Fantastics (formerly known as The Velours), which reached number 9 in the UK charts.[10]
  • In the Golden Girls episode, "Mixed Blessings" (1988), Dorothy's son Michael and his fiancee Lorraine are about to go into a chapel to elope. Rose states that Lorraine doesn't have something old, new, borrowed, or blue. Lorraine's mother gives her a blue scarf (something blue), Dorothy gives her a watch to borrow (something borrowed), Blanche gives her earrings worn by Blanche's grandma (something old), and the child Lorraine is pregnant with is counted as something new.
  • In the Friends episode "The One in Vegas" (1999), Monica says to Chandler she needs 'Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue' so they can get married. They got a new, blue sweater stolen from the shop (borrowed) and Chandler's old condom. In "The One With Monica And Chandler's Wedding, Part 2" (2001), Phoebe discovers Rachel's positive pregnancy test, assumed to be Monica's, and Phoebe asks if the baby counts as Monica's something new. In "The One With Phoebe's Wedding" (2004), when Phoebe decides not to wear her coat while getting married outside in the snow, she says "I can be my something blue", suggesting that she might go blue with coldness.
  • In the Grey's Anatomy episode "White Wedding", Callie Torres asks to borrow something from Sloan Riley, saying that she already has something old, new and blue, in preparation for her wedding.
  • In the Mama's Family episode "The Wedding: Part 1", Mama's daughter Eunice asks her future sister-in-law if she has "something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue" and Naomi the bride reveals that Mama gave her a sapphire ring - the same sapphire ring that Eunice has wanted since the death of her grandfather.
  • In the "ER" seventh season episode 18 "April Showers", Isabelle Corday, Dr. Elizabeth Corday's mother, hands her daughter a pair of family heirloom earrings the morning of Elizabeth's wedding, mentioning, "Something old, something new, something borrowed...."
  • The final two episodes of Season 2 of How I Met Your Mother are titled "Something Borrowed" and "Something Blue" in reference to the wedding occurring between the characters Marshall and Lily on the show. The final two episodes of Season 8 of How I Met Your Mother are titled "Something Old" and "Something New" in reference to the wedding occurring between the characters Barney and Robin on the show.
  • In the penultimate episode "We're Planning a June Wedding" of the popular series The Vampire Diaries, lead character Caroline Forbes receives a card reading "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue", and during the episode she receives items which signify the phrase for her wedding. Something old from Stefan, Elena's necklace (something borrowed), a floral-looking headband from her friend Bonnie (something new), and Katherine's necklace (something blue).
  • On Ihsahn's album Eremita (2012) is a song entitled "Something Out There", which uses the lyrics "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue".
  • The rhyme is referenced in the Fall Out Boy song, "I Slept With Someone In Fall Out Boy And All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me". At the near end of the song, Patrick Stump and Pete Wentz sing "Someone old, no one new, feeling borrowed, always blue".

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jacobs, Joseph; Nutt, Alfred Trübner; Wright, Arthur Robinson (1898), Folklore, Folklore Society of Great Britain, p. 128.
  2. ^ Anon (1871). "Marriage Superstitions, and the Miseries of a Bride Elect, Part II". St James’ Magazine. London: Sampson Low. VII: 572.
  3. ^ "Staffordshire Advertiser". 21 October 1876. p. 5.
  4. ^ "Something Old, Something New and the Lucky Silver Sixpence".
  5. ^ Firminger, Thomas; Dyer, Thiselton (1905), Folk-lore of women as illustrated by legendary and traditionary tales, p. 45.
  6. ^ "Something Old, Something New and the Lucky Silver Sixpence".
  7. ^ Post, Emily (1905). Purple and Fine Linen. New York: D. Appleton. p. 108.
  8. ^ a b c d Kate Middleton's bridal dress designed by Sarah Burton, BBC, 29 April 2011
  9. ^ a b c d Gripper, Ann (29 April 2011), "Kate Middleton's something old, new, borrowed and blue for royal wedding revealed", Daily Mirror
  10. ^ "Official Charts". Retrieved 26 May 2019.