Cultures

Wedding Traditions From Different Cultures

African American: 

Jumping the broom: Since slaves were not permitted to marry in America.  They would have a public declaration of love and commitment by jumping over a broom to the beat of drums.

African:

In some parts of Africa, a man asks permission to marry a woman, and if the family agrees, he presents her with a little money and a kola nut. The bride opens the nut, shares it with the groom, and sends a piece via messenger to other families to announce the engagement. After the wedding ceremony, guests shower the couple with corn kernels, symbolizing fertility. 

Australian:

The horseshoes, rather than being actual metal plates, are crocheted and a long ribbon is attached in a loop from end to end. The horseshoe is worn upside down over the arm of the bride during the wedding to bring luck to the marriage

Bermuda:

Bermuda traditions include the bride and groom walking under a moon gate after the ceremony for good luck.

The bride and groom have separate wedding cakes. The bride's wedding cake is a tiered fruitcake covered with silver leaf and has a small cedar sapling on top that is replanted after the ceremony to symbolize the growth of the couple's love.Gold leaf tops the groom's cake and represents prosperity.

Cajun:

It's a Cajun tradition for older unmarried brothers and sisters of the bride or groom to dance with a broom at the wedding reception--thus mocking their single status.

Older siblings also take center stage--if you can call it that--in a tradition called the Hog's Trough Dance. For good luck, the siblings have to dance in an empty hog's trough until it breaks.

Some sources say Pennsylvania; others say it's something done in the Appalachians or Balkans. I say that wherever it started, it's pretty darned funny, assuming you're not the person two-stepping in the trough.

Cuban:

Cuban wedding receptions are famous for their festivities. There is almost always lively music and dancing at a Cuban marriage celebration.

Wedding Guests partake in the traditional money dance, where each man who dances with the new bride must pin money o her dress, to help the newlyweds with their honeymoon expenses.

The money dance mentioned in the Cuban celebration might have been borrowed from the European traditions which date way back, the bride would have a money pouch to collect the money that was paid to dance with her, other countries in Europe an accordion player would play at the entrance of the ceremony or reception and you would have to pay the musician to enter.

Czechoslovakia

All the Czech women go out on the dance floor and surround the bride and sing a song in Czech. As they remove her veil, they put on a handmade babushka (a kind of hat). The song entails the bride is no longer a girl, she is a woman now. 

England:

More formal than German traditions. The children (more like the role of a page) carry the bride's train (typically a boy).  

French:

Two-handled cup. To toast the couple's marriage.

Germany:

For good luck the bride would carry salt and bread in her pocket to ensure bounty; the groom would carry grain for wealth and good fortune.

(Flower Girl) a young girl proceeds in front of the bride as they are traveling down the path to the church. The girl sprinkle petals to wish good luck and to wart off evil spirits.

Hindu:

In some Hindu wedding ceremonies, the groom is responsible for the bride's clothing. But instead of the familiar white gown, Hindu brides wear a sari. When the bride arrives at the ceremony, she wears clothing from her parents; when all is done, she is dressed in clothing her husband has provided. 

India:

To ward off evil, the groom’s mother would sprinkle flower petals over the couple at the end of the ceremony.

A newly married bride, while entering her husband's house (in-law's) for the first time, will first have to knock down a container of uncooked rice, and enter putting forward her right foot first. This is to ensure that she brings good luck to the house.

Brides receive many presents. First, a Tamo, which is a golden charm on a necklace (this is similar to a wedding ring). Midway through the ceremony, the bride changes into a sari given to her by the groom's mother, as a welcome into the groom's family. The women of the groom's family also present her with platters of fruit, flowers and candy, which they place at her feet. 

Irish :
  • For Good Luck
    • Sun shining on the bride.

    • To hear a cuckoo on the wedding morning

    • To see three magpies.

    • After the wedding ceremony, it was important that a man and not a woman be the first to wish joy to the new bride

Islamic:

It's an old Islamic custom, not often practiced today, to paint the hands of the bride and groom with henna the night before the wedding. Not only does this look beautiful, but it also helps the bride and groom get to know each other. 

One is that a dark hand design (called menhdi, by the way) signified the couple would have a strong bond. And if the groom couldn't find his name written into the design on the bride's hand, it was believed that the bride would wear the proverbial pants in the relationship. 

Italian :

To ward off evil eye, the groom would carry a piece of iron in his pocket on his wedding day, since his happy situation might provoke envy, and invite supernatural danger.  (As well the bride wore a veil to ward of evil) Tearing the veil was considered good luck.

At the end of the wedding day, the couple shattered a vase or glass into many pieces.  The number of pieces represented the expected number of years they'll be happily married to one another.

Common theme, past and present, emphasizes food.  A strong link with family life, food is the focal point of festivities. The sheer volume of food reflects how highly anticipated and festive a typical Italian wedding is.  The elaborate wedding of the couple brings together the friends and relatives of both families in a celebration of their new relationship.

Jamaica:

 The bride and groom primarily handle the wedding arrangements. Everyone in the village lines the streets to see a bride. If she does not look her best she is publicly criticized. Her father or both parents escort her down the aisle. Her face is veiled until her husband lifts her veil. During the ceremony the couple will go to the church office or rectory to sign the wedding certificate. The bride may change her attire into a formal dress or during the reception.

The bride's matron of honor is known as the Chief, the flower girl carries the train.

Curried goat and rice is included on the menu of a traditional Jamaican wedding. The goat is killed and cooked prior to the wedding celebration day. Rum punch, including a red sweet fruit syrup, rum pimento and lime is traditionally served. Champagne and wine and spirits are also served.

The wedding cake, usually a dark cake, has been soaked for about a year so the fruits and bread will be flavored and moist.

The wedding reception often lasts until the sun comes up. With Jamaican hospitality, no guest is refused, even if they come uninvited.

Japan:

To become husband and wife, the couple takes sips of sake, becoming husband and wife after the first sip.

Jewish :

The Jewish Chuppa canopy offered a sanctuary from evil spirits.

 Jewish tradition of stomping on a glass wrapped in cloth symbolizes the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, among other hardships endured by the Jewish people. Destroying a glass during an otherwise happy ceremony also symbolizes the mix of joy and sorrow in life.

Korea:

Two Korean wedding traditions involve birds that mate for life: ducks and geese.

  • Korean grooms used to travel to the homes of their brides on the back of a white pony, bearing a goose, which symbolizes fidelity. Nowadays, they use symbolic wooden geese.
  • In another tradition, a pair of wooden ducks, one symbolizing the bride and the other the groom, can indicate whether couples are happy or at odds. After the wedding each spouse places one of the ducks somewhere in their house. If the ducks face nose to nose, the couple is getting along. If they are tail to tail, the couple is believed to be fighting 
Mexican: 

For fun & entertainment, a traditional piñata. And guests would form a heart--shaped ring around the couple before the first newlywed dance.

Norway:

In Norway, Brudlaupskling, a wedding cake made of bread, dates back to the days when white flour was rare on Norwegian farms, and foods containing it were greatly admired. The bread is topped with a mixture of cheese, cream and syrup, then folded over and cut into small squares. 

Pakistan:

A Pakistani Bride wears red on the day of her wedding because red symbolizes happiness. Another reason why red is also worn is because it is bright. No one else wears red that day except the bride 

Peru:

A Peruvian custom is to include wedding charms between the layers of the wedding cake, attached with ribbons. Before the cake is cut and served to the guests, each single woman pulls a string. This works, of course, if you have a small number of single women attending the wedding.  The one who pulls the ribbon with the 'ring' on the end is the next one to marry within a year. 

Poland: 

Remembrance to the bride, friends in the village would weave a crown of rosemary leaves.

Scotland:

For good fortune, a bride should be met at the door after the wedding ceremony by her mother, who must then break a currant bun over her daughter's head.

 The night before the wedding, everyone gathers 'round to wash the brides feet.  Symbolizing, sending the couple off on a fresh path together.

Sweden:

Swedish wives wear three wedding rings:  for betrothal, for marriage, and for motherhood.

Another Swedish tradition is that the bride's shoes remain unfastened, to symbolize easy childbirth in the future

Sweden & Norway:

Performed on Summer Solstice, and considered very lucky. A couple would marry on midsummer eve during the annual celebration, everyone was invited to celebrate. The couple would take a boat over to a place to light a bonfire, when the couple married and lights the bonfire on midsummer's eve they are filled with a life of good luck and happiness.

Ukraine:

In the Ukraine, couples share korovai rather than a cake. Korovai is a sacred wedding bread decorated with symbolic motifs that represent eternity and the joining together of two families. 

Venezuela:

Most Latin American brides wear Western-style wedding apparel (i.e. major American designers). The ring bearer and flower girl dress like the bride and groom.

Thirteen coins are exchanged, they symbolize the bride's dowry if presented by the bride's father. They may also be presented instead by the groom to show his willingness to support the bride. The coins are called "aras". They are a symbol of future good fortune and prosperity.

Vikings:

In Viking times weddings were a little bit like an auction, only everyone had to pay. The groom approached the bride's father or guardian and made an offer for her. The groom's family paid this "bride price," and the bride's family coughed up a dowry, thus establishing a nest egg. During the ceremony, the money was handed over, and a banquet would follow.

The Vikings' modern-day descendants are more likely to tuck money in the bride's shoe so that she'll never do without--silver in the left (from dad), and gold in the right (from mom).

Wales:

Spooning: coined by lovesick men of Wales. A suitor carved a spoon of wood and presented it to his beloved.  If she wore it around her neck on a ribbon, she returned his love and they were engaged.


TidBit:

  Midsummer is considered an old pagan celebration, dating back to the Viking Era, (yet also has its ties to Catholism). It was a fertility rite originally, where the May pole was a phallic symbol, "impregnating" Mother nature. It was hoped that this would help to give a good harvest in the autumn. Midsumnmer plants were considered to have amazing healing powers and were gathered this night as well.

In modern times, it is a national holiday, where family and friends meet, eat herring and fresh potatoes and drink schnapps and beer. The actual day of the celebration is also the longest day of the year (summer solstice), signifying that summer has reached the half-way point.

Sankhansaften (Midsummer's Eve) 23rd June. Sankthans is an abbreviation of St. Johannes (St.John). The day is also called jonsok, which means the wake of Johannes or Johannes wake, originally in memory of John the Baptist. Jonsok night was an important wake in Catholic times with pilgrimages to churches and holy springs. Right up to 1840 there was, for example, a pilgrimage to the stave church in Røldal (southwest Norway) and its crucifix, which was said to have healing powers.

Unmarried girls would silently pick seven or nine different flowers to make up a posy which they would put under their pillow on Midsummer Night so as to dream of the husband fate had in store for them.