The origin of the chupa has been explained in a variety
of ways. Some believe it is a vestige of the ancient tent-life of Israel.
It has been pointed out that even to this day Bedouin tribes construct a special
tent for the bride and groom.
Some scholars regard the chupa as symbolic of the
laurel wreath worn by the bride and groom during the marriage ceremony in
Talmudic times. The original meaning of the word chupa, is "to
cover with garlands."
Other authorities believe the chupa is a reminder of
the room in the groom's house to which the bride was brought at the end of the
betrothal (engagement) period and where the couple cohabitated, thus
consummating the marriage. This aspect of the ceremony, called yichud,
was considered to be of the essence.
During the Middle Ages, when marriages were performed in the
synagogue, it became customary to erect the type of chupa still in use