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by Abigail Van Buren

Throwing Rice At Wedding Is An Old-Fashioned Ritual

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are hoping you could shed some light on the practice of throwing rice at a wedding. We were not only wondering when and how the practice started, but also do people still throw rice today at weddings? We had heard that guests had stopped doing so to help protect wildlife (especially birds). Have you found this to be true? If so, what do we throw now? -- EMPTY-HANDED IN WISCONSIN

DEAR EMPTY-HANDED: Rice-throwing is an ancient tradition that may date back to ancient Rome and Egypt or even earlier. It was a ritual having to do with fertility -- many grains of rice equating to having many children. In some countries, the couple is pelted with dates, raisins or even eggs, according to Ask Yahoo.

According to Emily Post: "All the traditional materials have their drawbacks: Rice can be dangerous for birds if ingested; birdseed can sprout weeds in unwanted places; rose petals are notoriously slippery; and even bubbles can stain a gown. Instead, you might distribute colored flags or streamers for guests to wave. ... It beats assigning someone the nearly impossible task of trying to recover grains and seeds from grass and flower beds."

It's Abby again: This is why I recommend that instead of tossing anything, you shower the happy couple with good wishes.

Read more in: Marriage & Divorce | Miscellaneous | Etiquette & Ethics