Something old is a symbol of continuity and a reminder of the bride’s family and past. Something new symbolizes optimism and hope for the couple’s future. Something borrowed is meant to bring good luck to the couple, usually from a happily married friend or family member. Something blue is a symbol of love, purity, and fidelity.
Items chosen to bring good luck to the bride. In this case, the veil was borrowed and the handkerchief was new.
and a [silver] sixpence in her shoe.
The old item provides protection for the baby to come. The new item offers optimism for the future. The item borrowed from another happily married couple provides good luck. The colour blue is a sign of purity and fidelity. The sixpence — a British silver coin — is a symbol of prosperity or acts as a ward against evil done by frustrated suitors.
An 1898 compilation of English folklore recounted that:
In this country an old couplet directs that the bride shall wear:—”Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” “The something blue” takes, I am given to understand, usually the form of a garter, an article of dress which plays an important part in some wedding rites, as, for instance, in the old custom of plucking off the garter of the bride. “The something old” and “something blue” are devices to baffle the Evil Eye. The usual effect on the bride of the Evil Eye is to render her barren, and this is obviated by wearing “something borrowed”, which should properly be the undergarment of some woman who has been blessed with children: the clothes communicate fertility to the bride.
The earliest recorded version of the first two lines is in 1871 in the short story, “Marriage Superstitions, and the Miseries of a Bride Elect” in St James’ Magazine, when the female narrator states, “On the wedding day I must ‘wear something new, something borrowed, something blue.'”
The first recorded version of the rhyme as we now know it (the so-called Lancashire version) was in a 1876 newspaper, which reported a wedding where the bride “wore, according to ancient custom, something old and something new, something borrowed and blue.”
Another compilation of the era frames this poem as “a Lancashire version”, as contrast against a Leicestershire recitation that “a bride on her wedding day should wear—’Something new, Something blue, Something borrowed’…”, and so omits the “something old”. The authors note that this counters other regional folklore warning against the wearing of blue on the wedding day, but relates the use of the colour to phrases like “true blue” which make positive associations with the colour.
The final line “and a sixpence in her shoe” is a later Victorian addition; the coin should be worn in the left shoe.
The wearing of the five items detailed in the rhyme is still popular in the UK and US.
In 2011, at the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, the bride had:
- something old – Carrickmacross lace
- something new – a pair of diamond earrings made by jewellers Robinson Pelham and given by her parents
- something borrowed – the Halo Tiara, a diamond tiara made by Cartier which had been bought for The Queen Mother, and which was subsequently given to The Queen on her 18th birthday
- something blue – a small ribbon sewn into the inside of the dress
In popular culture
Books and movies
- By 1905, the full rhyme had crossed the Atlantic to the United States as it appeared in the novel Purple and Fine Linen by Emily Post.
- Two romantic comedies take their titles from the rhyme: Something New (2006) and Something Borrowed (2011), the latter of which was based on Emily Giffin‘s 2005 book of the same name.
- In the Rainbow Magic Book Mia the Bridesmaid Fairy by Daisy Meadows the fairy must find ‘lucky items’ that are “Kirsty’s grandmother’s brooch as something old, Esther’s wedding dress as something new, Kirsty’s golden anklet as something borrowed, the blue feather as something blue, and Rachel’s sixpence anklet as the sixpence.”
- The 1971 single “Something Old, Something New” by The Fantastics (formerly known as The Velours), which reached number 9 in the UK charts.
- Placebo‘s song “Every You Every Me” (1999) contains the line “Something borrowed, something blue”.
- On Ihsahn‘s album Eremita (2012) is a song entitled “Something Out There”, which uses the lyrics “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”.
- The rhyme is referenced in the Fall Out Boy song, “I Slept With Someone In Fall Out Boy And All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me”. At the near end of the song, Patrick Stump and Pete Wentz sing “Someone old, no one new, feeling borrowed, always blue”.
- In the Taylor Swift song, “Lover”, she sings “My heart’s been borrowed and yours has been blue, all’s well that ends well to end up with you”.
- In the Golden Girls episode, “Mixed Blessings” (1988), Dorothy‘s son Michael and his fiancée Lorraine are about to go into a chapel to elope. Rose states that Lorraine doesn’t have something old, new, borrowed, or blue. Lorraine’s mother gives her a blue scarf (something blue), Dorothy gives her a watch to borrow (something borrowed), Blanche gives her earrings worn by Blanche’s grandma (something old), and the child Lorraine is pregnant with is counted as something new.
- In the Thomas & Friends episode, “Happy Ever After” (1998), Percy is instructed by Mrs. Kyndley to pick up four items that are old, new, borrowed and blue respectively in order to construct a good luck package for her daughter’s wedding.
- The ninth episode of the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is entitled “Something Blue” (1999) in reference to both Willow’s grief and the engagement plans Buffy and Spike make as they’re affected by a spell gone wrong cast by Willow herself.
- In the Friends episode “The One in Vegas” (1999), Monica says to Chandler she needs ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’ so they can marry. They got a new, blue sweater stolen from the shop (borrowed) and Chandler’s old condom. In “The One With Monica And Chandler’s Wedding, Part 2” (2001), Phoebe discovers Rachel‘s positive pregnancy test, assumed to be Monica’s, and Phoebe asks if the baby counts as Monica’s something new. In “The One With Phoebe’s Wedding” (2004), when Phoebe decides not to wear her coat while getting married outside in the snow, she says “I can be my something blue”, suggesting that she might go blue with coldness.
- In the Smallville season 8 episode Bride, Chloe Sullivan, who is marrying Jimmy Olsen, comments to her cousin Lois Lane that she already has something old, blue and new and just needs something borrowed to “round out the tradition”. In the season 10 episode “Icarus”, Lois Lane receives a surprise congratulatory letter containing a necklace as “something borrowed” from the disappeared Chloe for Lois’s engagement to Clark Kent. In the series finale, Chloe sends Lois a blue ribbon as “something blue” for Lois’s upcoming wedding to Clark.
- In the Grey’s Anatomy episode “Now or Never“, Cristina references the rhyme in a conversation with Meredith by giving her some blue items, namely an old post-it containing a grocery list, a new post-it, and a borrowed pen. In the Grey’s Anatomy episode “White Wedding“, Callie Torres asks to borrow something from Sloan Riley, saying that she already has something old, new and blue, in preparation for her wedding.
- In the Mama’s Family episode “The Wedding: Part 1”, Mama’s daughter Eunice asks her future sister-in-law if she has “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue” and Naomi the bride reveals that Mama gave her a sapphire ring – the same sapphire ring that Eunice has wanted since the death of her grandfather.
- In the “ER” seventh season episode 18 “April Showers“, Isabelle Corday, Dr. Elizabeth Corday’s mother, hands her daughter a pair of family heirloom earrings the morning of Elizabeth’s wedding, mentioning, “Something old, something new, something borrowed….”
- The final two episodes of Season 2 of How I Met Your Mother are titled “Something Borrowed” and “Something Blue” in reference to the wedding occurring between the characters Marshall and Lily on the show. The final two episodes of Season 8 of How I Met Your Mother are titled “Something Old” and “Something New” in reference to the wedding occurring between the characters Barney and Robin on the show.
- The ninth episode of series two of Torchwood is entitled “Something Borrowed” in reference to the wedding occurring between the characters Gwen Cooper and Rhys Williams on the show.
- In “The Big Bang“, the final episode of season 5 of Doctor Who, the Doctor‘s companions, Amy Pond and Rory Williams, get married. During the wedding, Amy interrupts her father’s speech to make a speech of her own when she remembers the existence of the Doctor and his TARDIS, bringing them back to existence. During the speech, she uses the phrase “Something old. Something new. Something borrowed. Something blue.” to describe the TARDIS.
- In the Superjail! episode “Gay Wedding,” prison guard Alice has one of the grooms wear an old metal bra, a new bridal veil, a borrowed pink thong, and a blue miniskirt.
- In the penultimate episode “We’re Planning a June Wedding” of the popular series The Vampire Diaries, lead character Caroline Forbes receives a card reading “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”, and during the episode she receives items which signify the phrase for her wedding. Something old from Stefan, Elena’s necklace (something borrowed), a floral-looking headband from her friend Bonnie (something new), and Katherine’s necklace (something blue).
- In Outlander season 5, episode 1, “The fiery cross”, Jamie prepares the tradition for Brianna’s wedding.
- In Anne with an E, when Prissy is to be married, the girls sit around her to see what she has. Diana gets her a six pence from England.
- In Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, when the title character gets married, her sister gives her their great-grandmothers handkerchief as something old.
- In Lucifer protagonist plays around the rhyme for Maze’s and Eve’s wedding by allowing Maze’s siblings (ancient Lilim demons from Hell) to attend their sister’s event possessing i.e. borrowing fresh deceased bodies with nasty blue spots.
- Something old, something new (disambiguation)
- Something New (disambiguation)
- Something Borrowed (disambiguation)
- Something Blue (disambiguation)
- Old New Borrowed Blue
- Old New Borrowed and Blue
- Coventry blue
- Superstition in India
- Superstition in Pakistan
- Superstition in the Philippines
- Japanese superstitions
- Bhoot (ghost)
- Ghosts in Bengali culture
- Jackal’s horn
- Kuai Kuai culture
- Nazar battu
- Pichal Peri
- Puppy pregnancy syndrome
- Kanai Anzen
- Fan death
- Kuman Thong
- Palad khik
- Nang Kwak
- White elephant
- Jin Chan
- Numbers in Chinese culture
- August curse
- Barbary macaques in Gibraltar
- Blarney Stone
- The Goodman’s Croft
- Icelandic magical staves
- In bocca al lupo
- Kitchen witch
- Painted pebbles
- Powder of sympathy
- Rabbit rabbit rabbit
- Ravens of the Tower of London
- Russian traditions and superstitions
- Superstition in Britain
- Spilling water for luck
- The Scottish Play
- Troll cross
- Tycho Brahe days
- Witch post
- 1 (Ace of spades, Henophobia)
- 4 (Four-leaf clover, Tetraphobia)
- 7 (Seventh son of a seventh son, Heptaphobia)
- 13 (Friday the 13th, The Thirteen Club, Thirteenth floor, Triskaidekaphobia)
- 17 (Heptadecaphobia)
- 27 (27 Club, Eikosiheptaphobia)
- 39 (Curse of 39)
- 108 (Hekatoctophobia)
- 111 (Hekatohendecaphobia)
- 666 (Number of the Beast)
- Auspicious wedding dates
- Baseball superstition
- Beginner’s luck
- Black cat
- Bread and butter
- Break a leg
- Chain letter
- Davy Jones’ Locker
- Dead man’s hand
- End-of-the-day betting effect
- Fear of frogs
- Fear of ghosts
- Fertility rite
- Flying Dutchman
- Four Eleven Forty Four
- Gambler’s conceit
- Good luck charm
- Human sacrifice
- Knocking on wood
- Law of contagion
- Lock of hair
- Maternal impression
- Miasma theory
- Numismatic charm
- Rabbit’s foot
- Ship sponsor
- Shoes on a table
- Sign of the horns
- Something old
- Spilling salt
- Statue rubbing
- Three on a match
- Toi toi toi
- Wishing well
- Witch ball
- Witching hour
- Apotropaic magic
- Astrology and science
- Folk religion
- Magic and religion
- Magical thinking
- Perceptions of religious imagery in natural phenomena
- Post hoc ergo propter hoc
- Traditional medicine
- Urban legend
- Superstition in Judaism
- Superstitions in Muslim societies
Source: Something old
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