Have You Heard About Wedding Blankets?
Big news! I got married earlier this month, so today I’m going to tell you about the Frazada de Boda, or, in English: the wedding blanket.
I’ll forever remember the scratchy material on my bare shoulders as my father and father-in-law wrapped a blanket around me my now-husband. The sun was beating down on our heads and I closed my eyes to take everything in. It may have been a hot summer day, but my heart was warm from emotion. My dad had spent a month weaving our very own frazada for us, and only now were we allowed to see it. My dad explained the meaning behind the blanket to my husband’s family since they were unfamiliar with this tradition. I pressed my forehead against my husband’s as my mom started reading the the Shehecheyanu (surprise, my mom is jewish and so am I) and I cried a little because I was overwhelmed with emotion. It very well may have been one of the most special moments I’ll ever experience. There I was, marrying the love of my life surrounded by family (social distance style, don’t worry) and being wrapped in tradition. I felt like our living families, grandfather and all previous generations were watching us, proud of us, helping us solidify our union.
Now, what you’ve been waiting for: the history behind Frazadas de Bodas.
A while back I contributed to a project documenting weavings owned by local Chimayosos. Researchers went from house to house to look at individual weaving collections and document style, materials, dates, weaver, and the stories associated with each piece (this is still an “in progress” project, btw).
So what significance does this project have to wedding blankets, you ask (you probably didn’t)? Well, the answer is: you’d be surprised by just how many personal collections are composed purely of hand-woven pieces gifted to family members for special occasions, sometimes handed down generations. I’m talking about graduations, coming of age celebrations, and of course, weddings. Pictured below is our wedding blanket woven by my dad, my parents’ wedding blanket woven for them by my dad’s aunt, and below that my grandparents’ wedding blanket, gifted to my grandparents by my dad’s grandmother’s grandmother (on his mom’s side).
Our wedding blanket
Parents’ wedding blanket
Grandparents’ wedding blanket
There are three symbolic bands on every piece: two outer and one center (although I’ve seen them with a single center stripe). The two end stripes represent the bride’s and groom’s families respectively, while the center stripe symbolizes the couple, their union, and the union between two families. A hundred or more years ago, this was a very common utilitarian blanket, but it isn’t seen so much anymore. They are traditionally very simple, have a white background, gifted by the groom’s family to the bride, and are made with a fine Churro wool. My dad tells me that in colonial homes, the windows were very small, so couples hung their wedding blankets on the wall during the day to reflect more light into the room. Clever, right?
Anyway, on June 7th, I had the honor of receiving my very own hand-made wedding blanket. Unlike the olden days, however, my dad wove it for the both of us, it’s made of mohair, it has a little bit of tapestry, and it will be hung on a wall permanently. One day, I’m going to weave my own children their wedding blankets (and for any nieces and nephews, of course) just as my dad did for me and his father before him.
Don’t get me wrong, wedding blankets are a part of my Hispanic heritage, but people come from all around to have us weave wedding blankets for their loved ones; it’s not just something we smuggle away for ourselves. The Frazada de Boda is a traditional item that should used to celebrate unions everywhere. So if you know someone who wants this special Rio Grande rug, send them our way. I’d be happy to weave one, it’d be such an honor!
P.S. this is a photo of my new husband, Kyle, and I on our wedding day.