The Role of Costuming in Two Pre-wedding Ritual for Women in Northern Scotland

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Abstract

The blackening and the hen party are two pre-wedding rituals for women. The blackening has its roots in a feet washing ceremony, which although once widespread across Scotland is now generally found in rural areas in Northern Scotland. The hen party is a more recent urban phenomenon, enjoying unprecedented popularity. These two rites of passage appear to co-exist happily. Shukla (2005) notes that “successful transitions between life stages are not only socially relevant, they are personally significant milestones, visibly marked by a change in bodily presentation.” This paper will explore that “change in bodily presentation” by examining the role costume plays in the blackening and hen-party rituals. There is a huge variety in what the bride and her attendants wear, where the ritual dressing takes place, and at what point during the proceedings. I will show that the purpose of dress and adornment in each of these rituals is varied, from singling out the bride and making a statement, through to establishing group identity. Furthermore, the purposes have changed through time, significantly in the case of the hen party.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-57
JournalCultural Analysis
Volume15
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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