Tasting Of The Four Elements

In honor of Black History month, and since this is the last day of February, I wanted to touch on an African American ritual that's not often seen or heard of at the alter; tasting of the four elements.  We're accustomed to seeing the lighting of the unity candle or the sand ceremony, but not much else in African American cultural traditions or rituals.  Tasting of the four elements is a representation of how a marriage can have its ups and downs and the vow to love "for better or worse, for richer or poorer, and in sickness and health." 

Image courtesy of Nsdia D Photography via BetsyWhite 

The four elements are often placed in small bowls or glasses for tasting.  They are:
~Sour (Lemon)- The couple tastes a bit of lemon that represents the individual sacrifice that each have to make within the marriage to be as one, which may cause sour feelings.
~Bitter (Vinegar)- The couple tastes a bit of vinegar that represents the bitterness that may develop within the relationship.
~Heat (Cayenne Pepper)- The couple tastes a bit of cayenne pepper that represents the heated arguments that a couple may have.
~Sweet (Honey)- The couple tastes a bit of honey that represents the sweetness in a marriage.  More than that, it's a showing of how the couple can "weather the storm" of the sour, bitter, and heat of their marriage and remain in love (the sweetness).

I don't often get to see it performed myself, but I do get excited when I suggest it to my couples and they love the idea and what it represents.  I think more couples should focus on the marriage and understand it takes work.  After all, the wedding is just one day!