Stories behind the language Vol.2

Every day, when we talk we use expressions. Their meaning seems to be well known to us but does not happen the same with the story behind these phrases. The story may be short or long, funny or serious.
The story behind the expression “Who payed the bride? ” could even be entitled “the bride ran away”. But in the end, the groom’s misfortune seemed to have caused much more sympathy and the title changed.

“Who payed the bride” ?

Why we do say so?

In Athens of 1843, when marriages among young people were pre-arranged, two wealthy families decided to marry their children.
The boy’s family offered (according the tradition) rich gifts to the bride, the marriage settlements were signed and the day for the ceremony was arranged. But when that moment arrived, everyone was aware that something was missing: the bride! Who, apparently, did not agree with the choice of the groom and she ran away with the man she loved.

The groom, being unable to do anything, visited the family of the bride and asked for a return of the gifts he had offered.
But to his great misfortune, one of the terms he had signed in the marriage contract was that none of the gifts would be returned, either before or after the wedding, regardless of what would happen between the couple. Which means of course that the bride’s feelings were known to her family which tried to secure the profits from the rich groom in any way, with or without the scheduled marriage.

So the bridegroom paid for a bride, whom he did not marry. And since then this phrase was left as a reminder for anybody, against whom an injustice has happened.

(The story is taken from the book :  ” Λέξεις και φράσεις παροιμιώδεις “/ Τ. Natsoulis, Publ.: Σμυρνιωτάκης, 2011)

wedding contract 1671/ Cyclades


Het Griekse Taal– & CultuurCentrum van Amsterdam