Wedding Traditions and Customs from Around the Globe
No matter our background or nationality, there is one thing most of us have in common: we love a good wedding! The perfect excuse to get dolled up and celebrate with friends and family, weddings are a significant part of cultures worldwide. From tokens of good luck to bizarre ceremony customs, here is a fascinating insight into wedding traditions from around the globe.
A romantic occasions forever circled on the calendar, the rules of engagement differ vastly from nation to nation; and the UK alone boasts dozens of engagement traditions! The Leap Day proposal is a notoriously popular one: the only date every four years where the roles are reversed and it’s the woman’s turn to do the asking. It’s widely believed that this custom was formed in order to create a balance between conventional male and female roles, much as February 29th balances the calendar.
In Wales, men traditionally carved wooden Lovespoons which they gave to their sweethearts to reveal their true feelings. Lovespoons are now common engagement and wedding gifts, with symbols such as bells and horseshoes signifying happiness and good luck. Similarly in Ireland, engagement rings regularly contain the bride-to-be’s birthstone; another gesture of luck.
Pre-wedding customs also vary widely from the polite and cordial to the downright outlandish. In China, it is custom for couples to host a pre-wedding tea ceremony where the bride is formally introduced to her future in-laws. In India, Hindu brides-to-be host a Mehndi party at which their friends decorate her hands and feet with beautiful Henna paintings.
Meanwhile, in Germany, things become peculiar when the bride is kidnapped by friends, taken to a pub, and fed champagne. When the groom finally finds and rescues the woman he loves, he also finds himself with a rather hefty bar tab to pay.
If that sounds a little odd, this Scottish tradition is even more curious. The blackening of the bride, a method of preparing the bride for the shame she’ll endure during her marriage, sees the bride-to-be pelted with rotting foods, fish entrails, soured milk, and other garbage before her wedding.
The wedding ceremony
We’re all familiar with wedding customs and etiquette here in the UK, but what goes on at ceremonies across the globe? In Mexico, after the vows have been exchanged, the couple are tied with El Lazo, a lasso of white ribbon or rosary which is draped around their necks in a figure of eight symbolising an everlasting bond of trust and love.
At local Italian marriages, once the formalities are done and dusted, the party begins with the Tarantella: an energetic folk dance performed around the newlyweds by the guests. In Japan, Shugi-Bukuro are given as gifts, decorated envelopes filled with money from the guests. And at the end of a Spanish wedding, the groom traditionally cuts up his tie, and auctions off pieces to the guests to raise funds for the honeymoon.
As for the traditional British wedding, we certainly have plenty of our own customs to get to grips with! It is always fascinating to see how other cultures celebrate marriage – and perhaps you can incorporate some of the less bizarre traditions into your own wedding!