INTERNATIONAL WEDDING CUSTOMS
An adorable little girl trots down the aisle, gleefully tossing flower petals as she goes. The blushing bride then glides down this passageway, adorned in a gorgeous, flowing white dress. She meets her beau, who dons a sleek black tuxedo. Next, a small boy proudly scampers down the path as well, holding a pillow with an expensive ring nestled aloft. The heartfelt ceremony is completed, the groom smooches the bride, and the couple runs off together – all while loved ones hurl handfuls of uncooked rice at them.
Pretty typical wedding practices, right?
Well, not if you are located in basically any other country on the globe than America. Many nations and areas have wedding customs that are far different than ours; that we may consider bizarre, intriguing, and flat out: “Huh??”
Veil of Tears
The people of Tuija, China, don’t just shed a tear over the prospective bride joining another clan; they shed buckets. One month prior to vows being exchanged, the bride to be traditionally begins to weep. For a full, obligatory hour each day. Ten days into this process, the fun really begins: mom joins her, for an additional week and a half of gushing. Then, just when things can’t get any soggier, enter Grandma. She cries alongside the two younger generations for 10 more days of excessive Kleenex usage. On the final days of the month, all the female relatives pack in for a cry-fest for the ages. The reasoning behind this month long bonding activity is that the tears uniquely express familial joy. The members of the family each cry out in different styles which combine into a harmonic orchestra of wonderful wailing.
Deep in Mongolia, there is a faction of people called the Daur that employ a rather dour method in planning their wedding day. The potential bride and groom grasp a knife, together, and lovingly murder a baby chick. Then…things get technical. A close scrutinization of the chick’s liver reveals whether or not the couple can set an official date (if the liver looks satisfactory (whatever that means), then they can send out the invites). If the liver is sub-par, they must kill again – as many times as needed until they find a good lookin’ liver. “Wow, I hope my sibling’s liver looks great!” thought every Mongolian chick ever.
Three Times a Harm
A small sub-section of Chinese people named the Yugur use a simple yet charming practice of affirming eternal love. The groom-to-be, much like Cupid, takes a bow and shoots three arrows at his betrothed. The arrows have rubber on the tips, so they don’t pierce the flesh of his love. They just hurt. After the third arrow has been slung, the guy breaks all three of them and then presto: the couple’s love is cemented in time. Awww… or, Owww…
Foot for Thought
After the wedding is officially complete, the groom’s buds then yank off his socks and tie a taught rope around his virginal ankles. They then proceed to whack away at his feet with uncooked fish. After his lower appendages are sufficiently beaten, he is then said to be ready to deliver the goods on his honeymoon. Fishy feet = virility.
Astrological assignations can play an important role in Indian culture; wedding related habits in particular. If you are a female who had the misfortune of being born under the Mars/Saturn 7th house combo, deemed a Manglik, then you are indeed ill-fated. Any man you marry will be doomed to early onset death. Luckily there is a way to break the curse. All you have to do, is marry a tree. See, then the tree-husband is smashed to bits (and don’t worry, you don’t need to have the marriage annulled) and you can marry a human if you choose. Everybody wins! …Except the tree. The tree loses.
Stealing his Sole
In various locales in India, when the groom makes his way down the aisle to the sacred marriage altar, he has to remove his shoes prior to getting there. Once the foot adornments are off, the guests immediately explode into pandemonium. Members of the bride’s family scramble to pilfer the shoes, while the groom’s clan attempts to keep them safe (and in the family). In the event that the lady’s crew ends up in possession of the shoes, they will not relinquish them until the fellow’s people cough up some rupees.
Cows have been revered in India for centuries. They make valuable products such as milk, curds, butter…and they apparently make good spouses too. While marriage to a cow, or any other animal, is not legally binding, it is believed to be a great way to fend off evil entities. Most bovine-marriage enthusiasts tout the primary benefit of being married to a cow is that they don’t argue that much.
Viva la France! In the kingdom of bordeaux wine and stinky fromage, when the wedding is fin, the guests would gather all the rubbish leftover from the reception, dump it in a toilet and compel the newlyweds to consume the zesty melange. This practice has gone out of date in most places, but not entirely: the post-party detritus has been replaced by delicious chocolates. Yet the idea of eating the brown treats out of a porcelain bowl just doesn’t quite intone “bon appetite!”
After the toilette related activities are in the bag, and the newly joined couple retires to their home, in some French villages the couple’s eager family members and giddy pals encircle their house and create havoc. They clank on pots and pans with kitchen utensils and scream their heads off until the peeved husband and wife duo emerges and offers them libations and edible goodies…presumably not obtained from the bathroom.
When the newly titled bride has her first dance with her equally green groom, she must keep her feet on the floor at all times. If she doesn’t, then fairies shall come along and snatch the bride up and take her to Fairytown forever. Makes sense.
The Last Straw
Ireland is divided up into a series of counties. In the western counties of Mayo and Leitrim, there exists a gang of young lads called the “Straw Boys,” that are assembled specifically when a wedding is on the horizon. On the eve of a wedding, the Straw Boys, which are always 9 fellows strong, enter the bride’s lodging and dance the night away with her. The Straw Studs also dance with any female family members that happen to be there. It’s sort of like a bachelorette party…without Vegas, strippers or plastic phallic shaped paraphernalia.
During the reception, if the bride or groom has to excuse themselves from the table or dais to use the restroom (or for any other reason), then members of the opposite sex converge upon the remaining newlywed and pepper them with kisses. It is not specified whether or not this affects the bride and groom’s decision to include herring (which the Swedes have an intense predilection for) on the dinner menu (…because of the smelly fish breath they inevitably are subject to).
Smashing Good Time
New dishes are a common present at weddings, the world over, as the bride and groom most likely need to have something to eat on. Yet in Deutschland, this can be problematic, as the party partakers grab the gifted plates and toss the delicate dishes to the floor. The thrashing and crashing din allegedly thwarts malicious spirits from entering into the newlyweds lives. Quite helpful when another guest gives them a broom.
The Spitting Image of Her Dad
In Kenya the paternal members of the Masai tribe give their daughters a hearty send off when they marry and bid farewell to the village. The proud dad lobs gobs of spittle all over his little girl’s head and chest area. “Any tissues left?” – “Sorry, that Chinese bride’s family used them all.”
“It Takes Two…Babies!”
The Neur tribe, located in the southern region of Sudan, do not recognize a marriage as valid until two things happen. Both of those things are actually the same thing: producing a baby. Once two little ones are spawned, then the marriage is kosher. If the “wife” doesn’t pop two tykes out, then the husband is entitled to a legitimate divorce.
Not a Laughing Matter
If the bride or groom smile – even once – during a wedding in the Congo, then it’s null and void. This is good news if a drunken uncle insists on telling jokes, as no one ever laughs at this…ever…in any country.
No, no…in there.
Across the continent, there are some African villages where it’s mandatory that a female elder joins the newlyweds in their bedroom on their wedding night – just to make sure things go smoothly. It’s common sense: there’s nothing less awkward than an older lady watching you and telling you how exactly to make love.
SouthEast Asia / Oceania
Walk the Line
Once the wedding is done in the Marquesas Islands, all the family members of the bride get really close. That is, they closely line up. On the ground. Face down. The jubilant new bride and groom then gallop over the bridge of humans and begin their new life together. The family members then wipe tears from their eyes, as well as footprints from their backs.
When an eager gentleman seeks a woman’s hand in marriage in Fiji, it is customary to ask permission from the lady’s pappa first. The father will often grant it; if the dude brings him a whale’s tooth. Just one. One whale tooth. No questions asked.
Hold it…Hold it…
Northern Borneo is home to the Tidong tribe, who insist that freshly married couples stay in their new abode for three consecutive days and nights. Doesn’t seem like too much to ask of a couple that truly is in love. There’s one little catch though: neither of them can use the bathroom that entire time. That’s right, no #1 or #2.
…And you thought your family was strange.