The Grushie and Scramble: A Scottish Wedding Tradition
The Grushie is a type of giveaway. At the end of the ceremony as the bride and groom are to step into the carriage, the bride will throw her bouquet to see who may indeed be the next lucky bride. For the men at the wedding, the Grushie traditionally was a handful of coins tossed alongside the bouquet. The person who tossed it was generally related to the groom, his father, elder brother, sometimes the Best Man and even upon occasion the groom himself.
To the Scots, the Grushie means 'healthy and thriving’, so in truth, this tradition is about prosperity and getting the bride and groom off to a good start. Perhaps the notion of giving away comes from a time when survival of the community was best assured by a kind of a communalism. It was impossible to survive on one’s own and the sense of modern day individualism was less prevalent. The health of the community, investing in the whole clan rather than accumulating for oneself, was critical for everyone’s survival, particularly before the money based economy. In order to receive, and be in an upward cycle of prosperity, you need to give.
However, it may be that the Gushie had other influences. . It was Rome who first brought the concept of coin to the Celtic tribes as a means of trying to bring a money economy to their communal life. Consider that coins are given away at the Grushie. The Roman wedding tradition of paying by coin at various steps in the proceedings probably held some influence here. Regardless, the earliest records of the tradition are in Scotland. Perhaps the tradition spread to Ireland because Ireland was the favorite place for the Scots to take refuge during their many wars with England.
Today, within the Grushie, there are many specific customs in regard to the coins. Some places require thirteen coins. Others demand the highest denomination that can be readily afforded. Some recommend these least amount in denomination but the most in quantity. There are even some tales which talk about throwing bags of coins (small though they may be) while others sometimes talked of gifting them as party favors for each guest.
Modern Grushies have are often aimed at the children. The scene can be reminiscent even of a piñata. A bucket of of candy, coins and small toys are tossed about the grounds. Children scamper after the goods, which is likely why in Scotland this tradition is now called a Scramble. No matter what the source for this custom was, the tradition supports the cycle of prosperity. Giving away money is an expression of generosity and the sharing of abundance.
For everyone at the wedding, it is an offering from the happy couple to the wider community. In this sense it is also a type of honoring for the guests who have come to share in the celebration, which is always a strong sentiment for Celts of all tribes and affiliations.