As Dick Van Dyke sang in the musical Mary Poppins “A sweep is as lucky as lucky can be.” And that’s why you want one at your wedding. In Britain, chimney sweeps make money during the summer by attending weddings, where they are considered a good luck charm. For these occasions, they dress as the Victorian stereotype sweep, often complete with a cat or a small boy. Kevin Giddings owns a company that cleans and services fireplaces and heating systems, and gets hired for many weddings.
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On those days, he dresses up—in a top hat, black gloves, a cravat, and a dress jacket with tails (he puts the jacket on right over his boiler suit). He sits his black cat, Sooty, on his shoulder, and picks up an old-fashioned wooden chimney brush. He smears soot all over his face. And then, once he’s all kitted up, he heads off to a stranger’s wedding.
How did this custom originate? It could be any one of many possible explanations, which you can read about at Atlas Obscura.
(Image credit: Milborrow Chimney Sweeps)