Breaking a Stick

Part of the marriage ceremony of the American Indians, as breaking a wine-glass is part of the marriage ceremony of the Jews. (Lady Augusta Hamilton. Marriage Rites, etc., 292, 298.)

In one of Raphael's pictures we see an unsuccessful suitor of the Virgin Mary breaking his stick. This alludes to the legend that the several suitors were each to bring an almond stick, which was to be laid up in the sanctuary over-night, and the owner of the stick which budded was to be accounted the suitor which God approved of. It was thus that Joseph became the husband of Mary. (Pseudo-Matthew's Gospel, 40, 41.)

In Florence is a picture in which the rejected suitors break their sticks on Joseph's back.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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