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Sticking With Tradition: Unusual Wedding Rituals From Around The World

We all know that a bride should have something borrowed and something blue, but across the world there are some weird and wonderful traditions that people still observe today. From crying brides to broken china, brides and grooms are keeping some very unique traditions alive.

Tie a red ribbon

Some people tie a yellow ribbon round an old oak tree, well in Turkey they tie a red ribbon around the bride. The bride’s brother or a close male relative ties a red ribbon around the bride’s waist before the ceremony. They wrap the ribbon around her waist three times while praying, and the ribbon signifies the bride’s maidenhood and is known as ‘bekaret kuşağı’. Sometimes, as the bride makes her way to the car, a male relative blocks the doorway or a younger brother sits on the wooden chest that carries the bride’s dowry, so the the bride can’t leave the family home. But a tip from the groom’s family means the bride is able to get to the church on time.

Buckets of tears

Some brides get very emotional before their wedding, but in China there is a tradition where a bride will cry for a month before she is married! The Tujia people who live in the Wuling Mountains observe the custom of ‘Zuo Tang’ (sitting in the hall) which means the bride begins to cry one month before the wedding day. At sundown, the bride walks into the hall and weeps for an hour. Ten days later, her mother joins her and cries with her, and then the bride’s sisters and aunts join them. This ritual known as a crying marriage, is a matrimonial custom that is observed by every Tujia girl, and some brides begin to cry as early as two months before the marriage!

Bridal body art

Morocco is famous for its henna, and it is an important part of Moroccan weddings. The night before the wedding, the bride and other women gather together for the henna ritual. A professional henna artist known as a Hennaya draws symbolic motifs on the hands and feet of the bride to bring her luck in her new life. Of course the bride gets the most elaborate designs and sometimes the groom’s name is included. One extra perk of having this body art is that the bride is not expected to perform any housework until her henna has faded. Time for the husband to get homemaking!

Knocking on wedding door

Bob Dylan sang about ‘Knockin' on Heaven's Door’, well in Ghana, the groom has to declare his marriage intentions in the custom of Kookoo ko which means knocking on the door. Bearing two bottles of alcoholic drinks, some money and cola, he visits his potential in-laws accompanied by his own family. When the drinks are presented, a chosen person who has come with the groom formally asks the brides family for permission to enter the house and announce their intentions. If the drinks are accepted then it means permission has been granted for the groom to come into the family home and state his intentions.


Food for life

Food is a big part of weddings pretty much everywhere in the world, but in some countries it takes a symbolic meaning too. In Russia, during the wedding celebration, the bride and groom are offered Kaaravai bread with salt by the groom’s parents to wish them good and prosperous marriage. This also symbolizes their acceptance of the bride into their family, as well as prosperity and a long, healthy life. The couple then break the loaf into two, and as the guests file into the hall, each person takes a piece of bread from either the bride or groom. Bread and salt have always been a significant part of Russian life. Bread in Russia symbolizes fullness and wealth and salt is highly valued, with some people believing that salt offers protection from evil forces.

The gift collector

In Finland, before the wedding the bride will go from door-to-door with a pillowcase to receive wedding gifts. Sometimes, an older, married man accompanies her and he holds an umbrella or parasol over her head to shelter her. This is seen as a symbol of protection and shelter for the bride. At some weddings, the bride's mother-in-law will put a china plate on top of her head when the newlyweds begin their wedding dance, which is usually a waltz. After the plate falls, the pieces of broken china foretell the number of children the couple can expect to have. Hopefully the plate won’t to shatter in into a thousand pieces!


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