The blackening’ is a pre-nuptial rite of passage for men and women that takes the form of capturing, dirtying, and cleansing the bride and groom. I show that it evolved from an older ritual called the feet-washing. Scottish in origin, widespread as a feet-washing ritual, both in urban and rural settings, the blackening is now a predominantly rural tradition. Although it can and does occur for men anywhere in the country, it is mainly confined to northern and, particularly, north-east Scotland for women, and it is women who are the main focus of this article. I describe the contemporary blackening, before tracing its evolution. I then consider the form and function of blackening’s predecessor, the feet-washing, before discussing how and why it evolved to become the ritual it is today.