I love learning about wedding traditions and the history behind them. Traditions such as “Should You See the Bride Before the Wedding?“, “Why do Brides Toss the Bouquet?” or even Wedding Cakes. I have always been curious about investigating the tradition of tying cans to the getaway car.
This tradition, along with many wedding traditions, originated from the goal of warding off evil spirits . . . yes, evil spirits!
“Protection from evil spirits played a big role in early marriage ceremonies. It was believed long ago that evil spirits were jealous of happy couples and would visit weddings to curse them, so a number of protection devices were introduced to counter ill wishes” (Whanganui Chronicle).
Brides wore veils to disguise their identity, and bridesmaids wore matching dresses and resembled the bride to confuse spirits. Originally, rice was thrown to distract and feed the hungry spirits. So, why tie cans to a newlywed’s car? The noise of the tied cans on the bumper of the getaway car was thought to have warded off evil spirits and kept the newlyweds safe on their journey.
To many, this noise was also considered a celebration!
“According to Hartsough, the tradition of tying cans to a getaway car’s bumper is said to have come from the French word charivari, or shivaree, meaning to perform a noisy mock and celebrate a newly married couple. ‘It was used as a way to noisily serenade the couple as they drove away,’ she says. But at first, tin cans weren’t the way of making noise. According to Elizabeth Lutz, owner of Glass Event Planning, wedding guests would serenade the newlyweds with a mash of sounds from pots, pans, and other noisemakers” (Brides.com).
In America, this tradition is more about nostalgia and fun but also has a practical meaning. Tying cans to a car’s bumper alerted other drivers that a newlywed couple was on the road, and this helped ensure the couple’s safety as they started their new life together.
The tradition has evolved, and now couples often decorate their getaway car with just about anything. Here are a few fun ideas if you are in charge of car decorating!
- You can never go wrong with window paint with large lettering of “Just Married!”
- Streamers or ribbons on the car mirrors
- More window paint with sweet messages on the windows
- Attach ribbons, flowers, or other decorations to the car’s bumper.
- And, of course, tying cans to the bumper!
One of the most important things to remember when decorating the getaway car is that it needs to be easily removable! Tape, string, or other materials that will not ruin the paint job on the car are best.
The sky is the limit, from “Just Married” signs to ribbons and flowers. And, of course, you can still find couples tying cans to their bumper!
Do you have any wedding traditions in your family? We’d love to hear about them!
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