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Something Old, Something New: Ethnic Weddings in Greater Lowell
This exhibit on ethnic wedding traditions represents a local component to the larger exhibit Something Old, Something New: Ethnic Weddings in America, which is simultaneously on display in the Working People Exhibit of the Mogan Cultural Center.  Featuring photographs by Katrinka Thomas of New York City and co-sponsored by the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies of Philadelphia and Modern Bride Magazine, that exhibit celebrates ethnic traditions as they are passed down to succeeding generations over time.

     The purpose of this Lowell-based exhibit is to acquaint visitors with wedding traditions as they are practiced in the neighborhoods of Greater Lowell and celebrated in homes, churches, temples, and catering halls.  The exhibit affirms the importance of ethnicity, which thrives in Lowell, and affords an opportunity to view and learn more about wedding traditions, old and new.

     Common to the wedding customs presented in this exhibit are the three themes of tradition, ethnicity and personal identity, which are continually realized through the treasured pictures and momentos that have been shared by the participants for this community exhibit.

     While weddings are commonplace, each couple creates, changes and re-fashions their own wedding to reflect their unique circumstances, their cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds and their personal wishes to have a perfect wedding day. 

Many traditions related to weddings are part of our common knowledge, our folklore.  For example, most brides wear white, step into a church right foot first to ensure happiness, walk down the aisle with a male family elder, and wear a veil which was formerly a sign of submission in her new role.  Many folk customs and beliefs related to the wedding day have persisted over time and are passed down through family stories.  For example, whoever catches the bridal bouquet will be the next to marry. Other folk beliefs, while seldom believed to be true, continue to be practiced.  Some customs relate to things that cannot be controlled, such as the weather: happy is the bride the sun shines on or rain on the wedding day brings unhappiness.  Or as our exhibit title implies: if the bride wears something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue on her wedding day, her marriage will bring her happiness.

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