AROUND THE WORLD IN TWO WORDS
Celebrating a couple’s ‘I dos’ is an incredibly joyous event, and cultures around the world partake in some fascinating wedding traditions to mark the occasion. Jade Gillan rounds up a dozen such rite-of-passage rituals, some so endearing you’ll want them for yourself.
Why start you marriage off with anything other than good vibes? While we in Oz might believe that something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue will ensure us a blissful and blessed married life, so to do other cultures around the world have interesting formalities said to secure a happy future.
While some are whacky, they are all wonderful because they are bound by the same beautiful values of love, friendship and family. When love and happy-ever-after are at stake, what would you endure?
Go big or go home
Your wedding day is a big day, but we can’t image any local ladies forgoing their pre-wedding fitness prep to carb-load for the event. Things are different on the island of Mauritius though. These brides are forced to pack on the pounds before their wedding. A chubby bride is a well-fed bride, and that sees her groom looked upon as wealthy. Thumbs up for this tradition.
A smashing good time
In the lead up to a couple’s impending nuptials, guests are invited to shatter porcelain items such as dishes and pots at the door of the bride’s home. The festive tradition is carried out to ward off evil spirits and bring the couple good luck. With their first task of housekeeping together being cleaning up the shattered mess, the couple symbolically learn to face any challenge thrown their way.
A close shave
Taking his role as groomsman literally, on the morning of the wedding a bridegroom’s best man will become his barber and give him a shave. The ritual is carried out to celebrate the trust between the best friends. All the other friends will then gather to dress the groom, each taking part in doing up his buttons and putting on his jacket. Now that’s man-love for you.
Turns out it pays off to be a big mouth. A newly wed Russian couple will share a sweetbread called a ‘karavaya’, which is decorated with wheat for prosperity and interlocking rings for faithfulness. Whoever of the two takes the biggest bite of the bread without using their hands is considered the head of the family. Hands up who’d take this title down with no worries!
What is a wedding party without the chicken dance? Well, pretty entertaining if it has a camel dance instead! In the West African country of Niger, a camel literally dances at the reception – in the dessert – getting his groove on to the rhythm of drums while wedding guests watch on. Why have live entertainment when you can have livestock?
You can bank on it
It is a Cuban custom for every man who enjoys a dance with the bride on her wedding day to pin money to her dress. The money is to help the couple pay for their wedding and honeymoon. We’re tipping a groom wouldn’t be too jealous sharing his new bride since he gets to take her and all the cash home at the end of the party.
What are friends for?
Chinese weddings may entail a lot of solemn customs, but there’s a light-hearted side to the day too. The bridesmaids have fun giving the groom a hard time on his wedding day by putting him, and sometimes his groomsmen, through a series of tests and challenges to prove his worthiness of their friend. Then, he must pay off the girls with envelopes full of money. Cha-ching!
Catch you later
If you wait until the reception’s end to catch up with the bride and groom, you might just miss out because they’ll be long gone. For newlyweds in Venezuela, it is good luck to sneak away from the party before it wraps up, without getting caught. The guest who first notices that they are gone is also said to enjoy good fortune.
On the other foot
In parts of India, a wedding tradition call ‘Joota Chupai’, or ‘hiding the shoes’, happens after a groom takes off his wedding shoes while walking to the altar. Once they’re off, the groom’s family is expected to protect his shoes from being pinched by the bride’s family. The tradition – part of a wedding ceremony that centres around the coming together of two families – is said to be a playful bonding experience.
In Romania, guests work together to kidnap the bride and hide her in an undisclosed location, then demanding a ransom from the groom. The playful party game can see the guests request anything from a few bottles of alcohol to – the rather cheeky – request that the groom sing a love song in front of the whole party.
In rural parts of Scotland, a tradition known as ‘Blackening’ occurs in the days or weeks leading up to a wedding. The bride and groom are captured and covered head-to-toe in anything the agents of tradition can get their hand on, from mud and food to molasses and feathers, before they get paraded around town. The mucky ritual is supposed to signify that in surviving the trail together with humility, a couple can face life’s challenges the same way.
Have your cake
While we toss a bouquet to all the single ladies, Peruvian brides determine their next-to-be-wed friend with cake. The wedding cake is embedded with charms when assembled that are attached to ribbons flowing out. The single woman who is served the slice of cake with a fake wedding ring in it, is crowned the next to walk down the aisle.