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Fit Washin' Night - Saltwater and Freshwater

Once the fit-washin' tub had been emptied and stood for the allocated time, a bucketful of fresh water was drawn from the drinking well and mixed with a bucket of sea water. The resultant mixture was then poured into the tub, over which the couple would then sit, their feet in the water and their seats carefully placed so the growing moon could shine between them.

It seems likely that this ritual was a variant of the original fit-washin' ceremony, perhaps all that remained of an older bride and groom tradition. Once again the perceived influence of the moon on the impending marriage is clearly apparent.

After the ritual, it was known for the mixture of sea and freshwater to be kept until the night before the wedding ceremony, when the couple used it to wash their hair.

Even after this ceremonial hair-washing, the water could not be simply thrown away but was instead poured into a round hole dug in the earth. Over this hole, while the water drained away, the oldest woman in the house would say certain words. This incantation or blessing is now long forgotten but once it had been recited, the hole was filled in and carefully covered with turf.

I have wondered whether the three water-related rites - foot washing, foot soaking and hair washing - were separate ceremonies in their own right or merely fragments of a larger, older and more symbolic pre-wedding preparation ceremony from the mists of Orkney memory.

The answer to this, however, is now long lost.

The Kissing Food ceremony

Section Contents
Customs and First Steps
Fit Washin' Night
Saltwater and freshwater
Kissing Meat
Biddin' da Folk
The Blackening
The Wedding Day Arrives...
The Wedding Feast
The Wedding Cogs
After the Wedding

See Also
Wedding Traditions and the Odin Stone
Courtship, love and marriage in Viking Scandinavia

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