Q: What is the origin of the custom of the bride depositing flowers on Mary's altar? 

[Mary]

A: The custom of depositing flowers (the bride's bouquet) on Mary's altar (sometimes limited to depositing on the main altar) goes back to the seventeenth and eighteenth century and is known throughout Europe, though more so in Latin countries. The custom became popular during the nineteenth c. especially with the generalized custom to have side altars dedicated to Joseph and Mary. The gesture has the significance of a rite of passage. The bride soon to become spouse offers her virginity (bouquet of flowers) to Mary in order to obtain her intercession for a fruitful spousal love. It is a gesture which honors Mary as virgin and mother, and expresses binding with her a time of a new stage in life. Thus, Mary becomes a witness of this important passage, and its guardian.


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