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A symbol of marital bliss

From the 17th century onwards, a wedding in rural areas of Drenthe was graced with a ritual centring on a bridegroom’s pipe. Tradition dictated that the bride lit a pipe shortly after the wedding ceremony[PA1]  and handed it to the groom. She had to take the utmost care, because if the pipe broke, the marriage was cursed. Smoking the pipe was a symbol of marital bliss and thus had erotic overtones. After the wedding, the bridegroom’s pipe was kept in a decorated cabinet and smoked on birthdays and at Christmas. The tradition of the bridegroom’s pipe survived until the early years of the 20th century.

Rhyme: Geachte jongeman, ik ben er toe genegen, / U deez versierde pijp te geven. / Is dit de eerste keer, ‘t zij ook de laatste keer, / Dat ik u zulk een pijp vereer (Dear young man, I am inclined / To present you with this decorated pipe. / This is the first – and also the last – time / That I will honour you with such a pipe).

Bridegroom’s pipe, no date