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Urban Legends

Dangerous Wedding Traditions

The Legend

You shouldn't shoot rifles, handguns, or shotguns into the air after a wedding because you might make a bird explode.

(variation)

You shouldn't throw rice into the air after a wedding because it might hit someone in the eye.


Behind the Legend

Many cultures have traditions for celebration after a wedding, and in most of those cultures there is some sort of legend about how dangerous the tradition really is.

Take the tradition of discharging a firearm skywards as the recently wedded couple exits the place of worship. Despite what legend would have you believe, birds in areas where this tradition is practiced long ago learned to "head for the hills" at the first sound of church bells. And in any case accidentally shooting a bird might injure it, but it will not make the animal explode. To explode a bird, you need to find a large one (such as a seagull), get it used to you throwing it bits of bread to catch in the air, and then throw it a couple of Alka Seltzer tablets. The resulting buildup of gas in the creatures stomach will have the effect you are looking for.

Similarly, rice isn't the deadly projectile that enemies of fun might have you believe. Rice is generally large enough to remove from an eye with ease even if it does strike one, and the latter event is made unlikely due to the human "blinking" reflex. And just in case you're worried about the rice's effect on the local wildlife, the Environmental Protection Agency says that thrown rice is, "even less damaging to the environment than a massive balloon release."

Other wedding traditions are not so easily discounted as safe. Stuffing a cake in someone's mouth can lead to choking, for example. A thrown bouquet can poke an eye out. And a lit cigar, a clumsy guest of a distant cousin, a tower of filled Champaign glasses, and a few inadvertently locked exit doors can quickly combine to make a fiery massacre. But in terms of danger to wildlife, throwing a bride's garter is by far the worst. Every year, large birds and sea creatures get garters caught around their necks, making them incapable of swallowing and leading to a slow, painful, starving death. So guys, the next time you're considering sticking your hand under your bride's dress to get yourself a cheap thrill while publicly humiliating your new spouse, think of the innocent creature you may kill if that garter goes astray and keep your hands to yourself.


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