A sixpence is a British coin which was first minted in the mid-1500s. It is a coin that equals 6 pennies. Again, during this time, people were very superstitious and believed that evil spirits lurked everywhere, ready to take over and control everyone’s lives. During ritualistic events, such as weddings, it was believed that the evil spirits were even more abundant. The sixpence became a good luck charm for the couple, which would symbolise future luck, wealth and prosperity.
The back of the sixpence coin depicts a Scottish thistle. This, too, carries meaning in the reason for the sixpence good luck charm. In the 1200s, the Danes from northern Europe attempted to invade Scotland. Undercover of darkness is when they attempted their attack on those sleeping. However, many of the raiders were bare-footed, and when they stepped on the thistle flower, which has thorns, they began to howl out in pain, thus alerting those who were sleeping. The Scottish believed the thistle to be good luck and began putting the flower on the back of their coins in the 1400s. Also on the back of the Scottish coins is the Latin phrase, “Fid Def,” which is an abbreviated form of “Fidei Desfensor,” which translates to “defender of the faith.”
Unfortunately, the sixpence was no longer made after 1967. Because of this, a bride could use any type of coin, as the thought of “wealth and prosperity” will follow.
The wedding tradition of placing a penny in the bride’s shoe was made popular with a Victorian rhyme – something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a sixpence in your shoe. Over the years, the term sixpence has been replaced with the term penny. In this rhyme, the penny was used to ensure the wealth and good fortune of the couple. In some European cultures, this penny was saved by the bride; later given to her daughter on her wedding day. In contemporary times, brides often have the penny made into a piece of jewellery after the wedding.
Bridal customs are often passed down through generations, leaving the origins of the tradition obscured. The tradition of a bride harbouring a penny in her shoe hails from a Victorian British rhyme: “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a sixpence in her shoe.” Though sixpences haven’t circulated as currency since 1967, many brides still keep lucky pennies or specialty coins in their shoes on their special days.
Table of Contents
- 1 Where did the bride placing a silver sixpence in her shoe originate?
- 2 What does each of them mean?
- 3 What does the sixpence have to do with weddings?
- 4 How can you incorporate the sixpence in your wedding?
- 5 Folklore Facts
- 6 Coins in Other Cultures
- 7 Practical Tips and Tricks
- 8 A world of tradition
- 9 Do other countries have a lucky sixpence tradition for the bride’s shoe?
- 10 And for the lucky silver sixpence
Where did the bride placing a silver sixpence in her shoe originate?
It is likely you have heard of the rhyme ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’. When reciting this rhyme most forget the final part- ‘and a silver sixpence in her shoe’.
What does each of them mean?
Something Old – This is usually a family heirloom passed down to the bride for her wedding day and then to keep beyond it. Jewellery is a classic example. The something old symbolises the taking of their old life into the new life they will live together as newly-weds.
Something New – This is to symbolise the new life the couple are planning to spend together. Often something new is symbolised by the exchanging of a wedding ring.
Something Borrowed – This is something borrowed from another, happily wedded couple. The borrowing of an item is meant to bring good luck to the couple and happy years to come.
Something Blue – By having something blue, it symbolises love, purity and fidelity. Everything a bride traditionally represented.
What does the sixpence have to do with weddings?
In a nutshell, the sixpence tradition began in the late 17th century as a part of the dowery gift to the groom. As time went on, the coin became more of a good luck charm worn in the left shoe of the bride on her wedding day.
How can you incorporate the sixpence in your wedding?
Several ways. There are several sites on the internet that sell sixpence coins for a very reasonable price. Go ahead and purchase the coin and, as tradition calls for, wear it in your left shoe. Save the coin and start a new tradition. Pass it along to family members, friends or one day, your daughter.
The sixpence symbolises good fortune and prosperity for the bride and the groom. The coin emerged in the British Empire in 1551 and was worth six pennies. According to And A Sixpence, the lord of the manor traditionally gave the bride a sixpence as a wedding gift in the early 1600s. At the end of the 17th century, however, it became more common for the bride’s parents to give the sixpence to the groom as part of the bride’s dowry. Silver Sixpence notes that the coin was viewed as a sort of lucky talisman during the Middle Ages when people feared that evil spirits were more active during rites of passage.
Coins in Other Cultures
In Sweden, a bride is traditionally given a gold coin by her mother and a silver coin by her father, representing her parents’ desire that she never be without. The gold coin is worn in the right shoe and the silver in the left. A Lithuanian tradition brings wedding guests into the fold. Guests scatter silver dollars, quarters and a half dollars on the dance floor, marking one coin with the bride and groom’s initials. After the first dance, whoever finds the coin with the initials gets to dance with the bride or groom.
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Practical Tips and Tricks
Though you won’t find one at the bank, silver sixpences are available through many specialty wedding retailers. You can opt for a newly minted penny instead, and perhaps one minted during a year that holds significance for you. The penny can easily be contained in close-toed shoes; however, brides wearing open-toed shoes should consider taping the coins in place, so they don’t slip out. If you’re going barefoot, consider starting a new tradition and putting the coin somewhere in your undergarments instead.
Many traditions around weddings are passed from mothers to daughters through generations. And one of them says that the bride should have a penny in her shoe. This is a very old tradition, and we’re going to explain it and give you a couple of tips on how you can incorporate it in your wedding day in a clever way.
Originally the well-known rhyme says that a bride should wear something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a sixpence in her shoe. This rhyme takes roots during the Victorian times, when the penny, and particularly the Irish penny, was a symbol of wealth and good fortune of the couple. But over the time sixpence was substituted by a penny for a good reason.
However, there’s also another explanation of the tradition to have a penny in your shoe on the wedding day. It’s believed that the tradition started from the Scottish penny wedding. This kind of wedding required guests to bring food and drink for a celebration after the ceremony. But eventually, this tradition evolved into guests giving the couple gifts that would help towards the cost of the wedding.
The tradition to have a coin in a shoe on the wedding day exists in many European countries; however, in some of them, it evolved into something different. For instance, in Poland, coins are tossed over the newlyweds instead of confetti. And in Lithuania guests throw coins over the dance floor when the bride and groom dance. No matter how the coins are incorporated into the wedding, the meaning of these customs is the same: wishing the couple to be prosperous.
If you’re going to follow the tradition of putting a penny in your shoe, then you should remember a couple of important details. First of all, the penny should be in your left shoe. No matter what kind of shoes you’re going to wear (open or closed ones), tape the penny to the inside of the arch of your shoe. It will secure the penny, and it won’t move as you walk and dance all day long.
You can also go further and incorporate penny in your wedding in other ways. For instance, you can order a special penny cufflinks for your groom. You can also have a penny stamped with your initials and used on a necklace or consider giving sixpence as shower gifts to the guests.
What should you do with the penny you put in your shoe after the wedding? Many brides keep it and make a hole in it to use for a necklace or bracelet. And if your mother or mother-in-law gave you this penny, then you have to keep the coin. You will pass it to your daughter (or daughter-in-law) when she has her wedding. By the way, if you’re the first in your family to have the coin in your shoe, then you can become the person who’s started this tradition.
Check out our blog post on other traditions and colours to avoid wearing to a wedding.
A world of tradition
- In Great Britain, the bride traditionally wears ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.’ But what is less well known is that the rhyme ends ‘and a silver sixpence in her shoe.’ For many years, the father of the bride would slip a sixpence into his daughter’s shoe before she walked down the aisle. The sixpence stood for good luck, and to show that the father wished his daughter prosperity in her marriage.
- Sweden has its version of this tradition. Before a wedding, the bride’s mother gives her daughter a gold coin to put in her right shoe. The bride’s father then gives her a silver coin to put in her left shoe. The coins symbolise their wish that the bride will never go without money.
- In Lithuania, the wedding guests bring silver dollars, half-dollars and quarters with them and throw them onto the dance floor. One of the coins is marked with the bride and groom’s initials. At the end of the first dance, the wedding guests pick up all the coins for the newlyweds and put them in a clear vase. Whoever picks up the initialled coin gets to have the next dance with either the bride or the groom.
- In Spain and Latin America, the groom gives a coin to his bride after the rings have been blessed. The coin symbolises his willingness to share all that he has or will have in the future. The bride keeps the coin as a family keepsake. If the couple goes on to have children, the bride will give the coin to her eldest son to give to his own bride.
- In Poland, instead of confetti, wedding guests throw coins over the married couple after they leave the ceremony. The pair then pick up the coins together as a symbol of their new unity.
- In Great Britain, silver coins are placed into the popped champagne or wine corks and given to the bride and groom as a memento of their special day.
Do other countries have a lucky sixpence tradition for the bride’s shoe?
As well as in Great Britain, other countries follow the tradition at their own interpretation.
In Sweden, before the wedding, the mother of the bride gives her daughter a gold coin that is then put into her right shoe. Differently from Great Britain’s tradition, this tradition signifies wealth for the bride and her husband in their marriage.
In Spain and Latin America, the groom will give his bride a coin once the rings have been blessed. This coin symbolises his willingness to share all that he has currently and, in their future, together. This coin will be kept as a family keepsake and will be passed down to the first-born son to give to his bride one day.
The tradition can also be found in Poland and Lithuania. It seems around the world a coin can symbolise a lot more than simply a form of money.
It is often the wedding dress that gets the most attention on a wedding day. Still, the shoes are just as important, as they are historically the focus of many superstitions and practices across different cultures.
Most brides are familiar with the phrase ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’ but how many know that this saying is completed by ‘and a silver sixpence in the shoe’? It is believed that a coin inside the bride’s wedding shoes ensures a prosperous marriage, although I am not sure how physically comfortable the bride would feel on the day! Sixpences are no longer in currency, but those who still wish to uphold the tradition may use a penny or another coin.
And for the lucky silver sixpence
A silver sixpence represents luck and prosperity in marriage!
A silver sixpence in her shoe is something traditionally the father will gift to the bride on her wedding day. It is custom for the father to slip the silver sixpence into the bride’s heel before she is walked down the aisle.
So what is a silver sixpence wedding? It is one full of luck and prosperity. The sixpence stands as a symbol of the father’s wishes towards her and her new partner to wish them love, happiness and prosperity.