The stable expression "hold a candle" is most often used in two directly opposite contexts. If a person wants to declare that he does not know anything about the details of the intimate life of certain individuals, he says: “Did I hold a candle?”.
On the contrary, a person who is extremely knowledgeable in this matter confirms the fact of his extensive knowledge with the statement: "Exactly, I held the candle myself!" Let's figure it out: where did this expression come from and what does the first wedding night in the era of Ancient Rus have to do with it?
Let's start with the fact that in different countries there are very bizarre traditions associated with the first wedding night. For example, in some African tribes, the groom, in a fit of passion, knocks out the bride's two front teeth. And in Mexico, newlyweds, on the contrary, abstain from sex for several days after marriage.
Our ancestors also attached great importance to the emergence of intimate relationships between newlyweds. In ancient Russia, a wedding was a strictly regulated ritual action from start to finish. Of course, the wedding night is no exception.
In Russia, a special marriage bed was prepared for the young, placing various ritual objects and charms under it, which were supposed to protect the new family from the evil eye and damage, as well as ensure prosperity and healthy offspring. Such items included: poker, juniper twig, log, rye sheaf, bag of flour. The marriage bed was high, the more featherbeds the better.
Everyone, relatives and friends, accompanied the newlyweds to the bedroom. At the same time, the tipsy guests had to behave as fun as possible. They sang obscene ditties, joked, gave obscene advice to the newlyweds. The goal of this whole action was noble: people wanted to help often inexperienced in this matter to the groom and the bride to be liberated, to tune in to the right wave, to overcome natural embarrassment.
A friend of the groom had to hit the marriage bed with a whip several times in order to drive away all evil spirits from there. Then the young entered into an intimate relationship. However, they were not left alone. The groom's older relatives - father or brother - literally spied on the intercourse, holding candles in their hands, since there was simply no other lighting in those days.
There were several reasons for this seemingly strange behavior of relatives. The lack of closeness between the spouses meant the impossibility of procreation, and it was for this purpose that family unions were concluded in Ancient Russia. And the fact of intercourse had to be attested for the marriage to be considered valid.
Also, relatives feared that the bride would be replaced in the dark. Sometimes, if a girl did not want to become the wife of a particular guy, she could quietly escape from the matrimonial bed, and some girl took her place. This was done to put everyone in front of the fact in the morning: this guy is now the husband of a completely different person.