The importance and meaning of weddings have changed a lot over the last centuries. However, still in the 21st century this important day is celebrated with particular care in different regions all over the world. In this article we give you a small insight into different customs and their history. Take a sip of tea and enjoy the romantic, exciting, sportive and personal worldwide trip we embark together!.
Misfortune is the last a freshly married couple wants to start their relationship with. Consequently, still today, many follow the tradition that the groom does not see the cloths, the bride is going to wear on the day of the wedding ceremony beforehand, as this is thought to have highly unlucky consequences. Not only the textiles but also the shoes the bride walks in are worth to be focused on. The bride should pay for them in cent coins and put one cent in her left shoe to guarantee wealth. Besides what the bride wears, also what she carries in her hands is of importance. Traditionally, this includes a bouquet which is thrown over her shoulder -accidently landing in the hands of the one who is going to marry next. Small international hint: This custom, nowadays appearing at nearly every German wedding, originates from the American continent. Due to movies and international exchange those customs are spreading quite quickly.
Germans also seem to like opposites as it is considered a guarantor of luck if you start apart and then get together: The night before the wedding, the future husband and wife shall not sleep in the same room. After that, of course they will share a common bed – but getting there is not rule-free: The husband has to carry his freshly married wife over the threshold of the room. In early days, people believed that this would chase evil spirits away. Another theory why this tradition exists is not romantic but rather rings the alarm bells of all the women rights activists: it is supposed that the bride resists to join her husband. As she rather prefers to follow her parents after the wedding ceremony, the husband necessarily needs to carry her.
There are also a bunch of regional traditions. In Bavaria, the “Maschkern” can be considered to be an old ancestor of the “masked singer” with a personal touch. Friends and family members wear masks while telling anecdotes and stories of the life of the future husband and wife. The “old flame” appearing at that event tries to convince the spouse of choosing her instead of the foreseen wife, thus testing the reliability of his decision.
In Mexico one tradition is closely related to Christianity and draws a parallel to Germany: coins play an important role here as well. The groom hands out 13 gold coins to the bride (called “arras”). They symbolize the 12 disciples together with Jesus. Also interesting is the way how eternity is guaranteed for the marriage: by the wrapping around the neck of the couple with a so called “lazo”. What may be even more interesting for the guests: the wedding ceremony is quite delicious as the typical wedding cake is made of dried fruits with nuts.
Here, after having decided who you want to marry, you need to look for a Whale’s Tooth as this is a required gift to bring to the father-in-law when proposing for the hand of the wished woman. Slight personal remark from my side: in case you want to follow this tradition please make sure that animal wellbeing is respected in any case. Buying parts of once lived animals often supports the hunting after those. So, maybe you can find a beautiful faked one.
Demanding for the hand of a girl such as in Fiji is already considered old-fashioned in modern days. Moreover, arranged marriages are not that common anymore as they used to be. But still, they are happening every day. Based on this background the cultural interpretation of the woman’s behaviour in Kyrgyzstan is highly disputed: Crying soon-to-be-brides were considered as giving good luck for the future. This interpretation made it easy to legitimize arranged and forced marriages.
Even wedding traditions know how to travel internationally. Movies and wedding ceremonies from celebrities influence parties all over the world. Let inspire yourself and make your wedding an influential one respecting all different kinds of traditions and customs.
The date of the wedding needed to be selected in an elaborate process using the dates of birth of the future husband and wife as basis. In the Daur region the couple even needs to find a chicken with a heathy liver before fixing a date. After all these efforts the work is still not over: before getting their deserved twosomeness, Chinese couples need to kick out each single of their guests, since it is the challenge from the whole family and all the friends to try staying in the couple’s sleeping room as long as possible.
Together with the guests, performing a tea ceremony is also quite common. Each of the family members takes a sip of one cup of tea and afterwards hands over a red envelope to the newlywed.
Above that, crying needs to be practiced one month prior to the wedding. This is definitely not a custom which suits spontaneous people: within the Tuja culture the bride cries for an hour every day, sometimes being joined by female friends and relatives. Tears to guarantee a fortunate wedding? In this culture yes.
When it becomes crosscultural…
Maybe crying is an alternative method to get liquid out of your body. In Borneo those strategies may be quite useful. Among the Tidong people, the wedding partners are locked for three days and are not allowed to shit or pee. Quite hard challenge!
Kisses are not only given in France for greeting but also in Sweden at wedding parties: if the groom exits the room, every male tries to kiss the bride and the women hurry to the husband as soon as the women is invisible. If you are interested in kissing traditions, you can dive more deeply into this topic by reading our article Kisses around the world (link).
Did you know that engagement rings have symbolized the never ending of the love already since old Egypt times and spread all over the world?
Barefood wedding? In Hindu weddings it is common to steal the shoes of the groom. The woman is also missing something that brides have in other cultural circles: jewelry. Instead In India mehndi is used, painting the hands and partly arms. But: it does not primarily contribute to the women’s beauty but much more to her health: the henna from which the colour is made is respected to calm down the bride and bring peace to the wedding day full of adrenalin.
A first night with little sleep? Go to France if you either do not mind noise or are a short-time sleeper. In this country family and friends meet in front of the house of the fresh couple and have fun playing with pots and pans. To silence this so-called “Charivari” snacks and drinks need to be served.
Scotland behaves even worse to the couple itself. In the Blackening ritual the bride and groom have to prove that they are really prepared to suffer together and withstand everything. Family and friends throw disgusting ingredients on the newlyweds and try to tear them to a tree. Funny or cruel? At the end it shall help to bind the forces of the couple together and make them strong as a team. In some regions in Germany the couples also show their strength – but in a different way: they need to cut a “Baumstamm” (trunk) into halves with a two-sided saw.
In Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia it gets not exhausting for the couple but for the people invited. They lay down on the ground and form a human carpet on which the couple moves into the new phase of their live. Hence, let your guests know that they may not only bring the best of their cloths to the celebration.
After all these exciting activities, food is especially important: the Norwegian Kransekake is particularly delicious. This special cake is created by placing iced almond cake rings on top of each other. The middle leaves space for nice presents. Not only the physical presents of today but also potential future “presents” in the form of children are related to this special dish: according to legends, the amount of layers represent the amount of children the newlyweds will have. Watch out how baking enthusiastic the one responsible for the cake is!
Multiple layers also occur on the wedding dress in Cuba. Here, men who want to dance with the bride need to glue money to the textile.
In Peru a wedding guest can even get into the trap of marrying a cake. On ribbons which stick out of the cake, one can not only find charms but also one “fake” wedding ring. The one getting exactly the piece of cake with the ring is supposed to be the next who will marry.
From a delicious cake up to salty snacks: food is always important when celebrating with friends and family. Why not try out to prepare some international dishes and surprise your guests with new flavors and smells?
The tradition of having a best man is that common in many countries that people assume, it is legally binding. But this is not the case. In fact, this tradition originates from times in which wedding was more considered as business and less as romantic way of taking the next step of togetherness. Witnessing those important contracts was of high importance.
Dead fish: A tradition that is for sure not supported by vegans and people interested in animal rights appears in South Korea: Here it is supposed to be the best way to prepare the groom for the wedding night by beating his feet with dead fish alongside bamboo sticks.
Wedding without borders
All of those customs are not bound to one geographical restriction. What they all have in common is the involvement of friends and family. I can only recommend to you: celebrate this special day with the loved once in a way that suits you. Be inspired by the vast variety of different possibilities and try out what sounds appealing to you or what individual ideas you come up with – Always by respecting the underlying culture and history.
Our CEO Lilith has ever been curious about different customs in various cultures. No matter if it concerns food, partying or mourning. She loves talking to people about how they use to behave in different situation according to their historical and environmental backgrounds.