The Tradition Of Marriage

You know, I intended to write about food and the wedding tradition. I imagined an eloquent metaphor linking food, happiness, and a community of family and friends coming together in celebration. After all, I do not think I have ever been to a wedding celebration without food.

But, it’s funny because I couldn’t find too much information affirming this notion.

It’s true that food is a part of most weddings. It may have always been that way. But these days I could mostly find ranty-blogs by people complaining about the wedding they were attending: rubber chicken, tasteless pasta, cloying cakes, expensive caterers, pointless gifts, boozy relatives, philandering brides and grooms. You get the idea.When did traditional marriage become the butt of so many jokes? I do believe it is a spiritual bond between two people. I have seen them in person— at the Alter, in a courthouse, on the lawn, even in my own living room— when they make this solemn commitment. It means something. You can see it in their faces.

When did traditional marriage become the butt of so many jokes? I do believe it is a spiritual bond between two people. I have seen them in person— at the Alter, in a courthouse, on the lawn, even in my own living room— when they make this solemn commitment. It means something. You can see it in their faces.

So why the jokes?  Why is divorce the norm? Why does one segment of society want to stop another segment of society from participating in a ritual that they themselves seem to take so lightly?

I think maybe our “tradition” of marriage is becoming antiquated. So it makes sense that the traditions attached to it no longer mean what they used to. There has been a loss of respect for these traditions because people see hypocrisy in them. Historically, it is not the first time this has happened, and I suspect it is not the last.

At the core of marriage (traditional, modern or conceptual) there is a fundamental truth about human nature. We bond together for protection, for strength, for nourishment even. Even in today’s world there is comfort in these most intimate of connections.

The romance of marriage that I am describing is a rather new concept however. In fact the nature of marriage has changed in definition and practice many, many times over. What we define as marriage is nothing at all like what it was at the dawn of time or even the dawn of this country.

Not so long ago women’s families bartered them into marriage. The companionship and domestic comforts were just part of the equation. But not the outward motivation. The outward motivations were economic. A lot has changed…

The most important change has been in the transfer of power in the making of the marriage decision. At one time the families had all the power and the couples were offered very little choice. That seems unheard of in our society. But it is a change in “traditional” marriage nonetheless.

The changes in marriage have been fundamental and vast. But because they have been incremental; they have been resisted all along the way. Just ask Romeo and Juliet, oh that’s right they’re dead.

Our food traditions reflect a lot of these attitudes as well. Back when practical concerns were at the top of the list, dowries often included food and livestock. The wedding party was as sumptuous as could be afforded. This was not so much as to impress the neighbors, as it was a nod to tradition. A bountiful wedding means a bountiful life.

These superstitions got their start in ancient times. Both the Romans and Greeks had similar grand wedding feasts. A tradition was developed involving the breaking of bread over the newly wed couples head. It was believed to bring fertility (hence prosperity) to the couple. Even the guests could partake in the good luck by eating the crumbs that fell to the floor. This was once considered “traditional” and an accepted form of betrothal. Times have changed, but you occasionally still hear the term “breaking bread” used to describe important celebrations.

Many of the changes in the tradition of marriage evolved as a response to the changing role of women in our society. As women gained more power, marriage evolved to reflect these new attitudes.

I think we are at a similar stage in the state of marriage. New traditions are being made. Gays and lesbians are gaining power and acceptance. We are beginning to expect the rights and privileges traditionally denied us. Of course, it’s being resisted. But I see a chink in the wall, and the light streaming through is illuminating a new era with new traditions. Linked to the past but, once again, exploring new directions and new attitudes.

So it makes sense to grasp that which is most basic in our natures. The celebration of life and the joy it brings. Food is indeed a part of this for it nourishes the body and allows the mind and the soul to prosper. So the next time you’re invited to “break bread” with a newly wed couple, sit down, relax and celebrate with family, friends and food.

You know— despite what I read on the internet— I think I have talked myself back around to my original concept. Food and the tradition of human bonding is important. It is beautiful. It is very much tied up with who we are as a human society. Pare it down that simply and it only makes sense to nourish ourselves as a symbol of the emotional nourishment we all feel when we watch two people, any two people, say, “I love you” in front of family and friends.

So, I can’t say what the future of marriage is. But I can say, just thinking about it makes me hungry. GREG

Gorgonzola and Walnut Terrine 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 12+Published


  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 ½ cup gorgonzola softened
  • 1 cup cream cheese softened
  • ½ cup minced chives or green onion greens
  • freshly cracked black pepper as needed
  • Pumpernickel as needed


Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 4‑cup soufflé dish, loaf pan or terrine with plastic wrap, allowing 4 inches of overhang on 2 sides.

Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and bake until lightly toasted, about 8 minutes. Let cool, then finely chop.

In a food processor, puree the Gorgonzola with two-thirds of the cream cheese until smooth.

In a bowl, blend the goat cheese with the remaining one-third of the cream cheese and ¼ cup of the green onion greens; season with pepper.

Sprinkle ⅓ cup of the walnuts in the bottom of the prepared dish. Spread half of the Gorgonzola mixture on top and sprinkle with half of the remaining walnuts and 2 tablespoons of the green onions. Spread the goat cheese mixture on top, and sprinkle with the remaining walnuts and green onions. Top with the remaining Gorgonzola mixture. Fold the plastic wrap over the top of the terrine and press lightly. Cover with more plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or for up to 2 days.

To un-mold the terrine, unwrap it and lift it out by the plastic wrap, then turn it out onto a platter. Slice the terrine and let it return to room temperature before serving with toasts


Greg Henry