Picture this, ladies: It's your wedding day, and the only problem is that you're a housemaid in Ye Olde England. Not to worry! Just grab your mop, sneak out of the castle, and run down to the magistrate's office. You and your fiancee will hold the mop while the magistrate rants on for a bit about love and commitment and all that, but then you better rush back home quick because those chamber pots aren't going to empty themselves.
That's all it took to get hitched in England back then. No certificates, no rings, no formal registration or legal shenanigans required. That is, until the Marriage Act of 1753, which was specifically written so lower class trash like yourself couldn't get married without a clergyman and a license. Still, up until that fateful act, all you needed to forever bond yourself in matrimony to your equally dirt-poor mate was a mop.
We're talking about people so low in the pecking order that their entire identities were tied to the instrument they used to swish mud and pig droppings around.
In all likelihood, a couple participating in a mop wedding met at a mop fair, which was kind of a job fair for the working classes, usually held at the end of September. Skilled and non-skilled workers showed up in the village to sell their services to prospective employers. If you were, say, a cobbler, you'd carry a shoe around, or if you were a baker, you'd carry a spatula or something.
Likewise, mimes would carry around shame and their parents' disappointment.
But if you were unskilled, you'd just show up with a mop, which came to symbolize those on the lower end of the domestic service hierarchy, and it would become a part of them until the end of their lives.
These days it's like two laid off lovers grappling a bundle of food stamps while the preacher conducts the ceremony. Somehow, they'd come across as precious and desperate at the same time. What more could you ask for on the most important day of your life?
It's one thing when your fully bearded Uncle Ralph shows up at the wedding in a homespun tuxedodress to steal your big day thunder. But if you happen to live in the Kyustendil area of western Bulgaria, it's likely that you specifically asked him to.
"Please, Uncle Milty. Please dress up like Amy Winehouse."
Before the wedding, Bulgarian brides would traditionally ask a favorite family member to blacken his face and play the role of the strashnik, or "frightening one." Just as she got ready make her big entrance before the ceremony, the strashnik did a flying leap out of the bushes to grab the eyes of all the onlookers.
Afterward he might strum out a tune on his ol' banjo.
He would then proceed to throw dried dung at the wedding guests while wielding an animal bone in a manner that would be threatening if it weren't so ridiculous.
While Uncle Stoopid conducted his freak show, the bride slipped past and pretended there wasn't a crazy transvestite throwing shit at people just a few feet away.
To ward off the evil eye. By seizing the attention of all the onlookers, the strashnik created a stink eye force field, thereby letting the bride slip by before anyone could afflict her with jealousy-driven curses.
"No! Stink-eye me instead!"
The Bulgarians believed that people were most vulnerable to evil magic while they were being praised and adored, so having a wedding ceremony was just asking for trouble. That's where the cross-dressing nutcase came in, whose role was simply to be as irritating as possible while the bride walked down the aisle.
Have you ever tried to give someone the evil eye while a poplocking juggalo wigged out for your attention? Well, let us assure you, it's pretty hard. Damn hard.
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