We'll never stop being amazed by how each corner of our world is filled with vibrant, unique cultures and traditions, all contributing to the brilliant tapestry of mankind. As diverse as our culinary preferences, fashion choices, and languages may be, so are the ways we celebrate love and marriage. We're headed on a fun journey today - let's explore the fascinating and sometimes downright bizarre rituals that make up the world's marriage customs. We guarantee you're going to learn something new!
1. Kazakhstan: Stealing the Bride
In rural Kazakhstan, “kyz ala kachuu”, which translates to “grab and run”, was traditionally a rite of passage. Men, often with their friends, would kidnap a woman, declare their intentions to her parents, and then marry her. This practice has become less common, but it hasn’t entirely disappeared. It’s not as terrifying as it sounds though - often, it’s a consensual game between young lovers.
2. China: Weeping Ritual
In the Tujia ethnic group in China, the bride prepares for her big day by…well, crying. Yes, crying! For an entire month before the wedding, the bride must cry for an hour each day. Ten days into this tear-jerking ritual, her mother will join in. By the end of the month, every female in the family will be weeping alongside the bride. Talk about strange!
For an entire month before the wedding, the bride must cry for an hour each day. Ten days into this tear-jerking ritual, her mother will join in. By the end of the month, every female in the family will be weeping alongside the bride. Talk about strange!
3. India: Henna Party
Indian weddings are colourful, vibrant, and last several days. One unique custom is the “Mehendi” ceremony, where the hands and feet of the bride are adorned with intricate designs using henna. These elaborate patterns are not just beautiful body art, they are believed to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck to the newlyweds.
4. Kenya: Spitting on the Bride
For the Maasai tribes in Kenya, the father of the bride blesses his daughter by spitting on her head and chest before she leaves with her husband. While it may not seem like the nicest wedding gift, in Maasai culture, it’s a way of offering good luck and prosperity. It just goes to show you that different actions can mean different things around the world.
5. Japan: Sake-Sharing Ceremony
In Japan, the couple partakes in a traditional ritual known as “san-san-kudo”, where they share sake, a traditional Japanese rice wine. The bride and groom take three sips from three different sake cups, symbolizing the joining of two families. This ritual is both delicate and profound, much like the taste of the sake itself.
6. France: Bathroom Soup
One hilarious and seriously icky tradition in French weddings involves the couple drinking soup from a toilet bowl! Yeah, you read that right. The leftover bits from the wedding reception are mixed with alcoholic beverages and served to the couple as a sign of the forthcoming challenges of married life.
7. Germany: Polterabend
In Germany, there’s a saying that goes “Shards bring luck”, and this couldn’t be more true during the Polterabend ceremony. This ritual asks guests to smash porcelain dishes as the couple cleans up the mess together, supposedly symbolizing that they can face any challenge that comes their way. Fun for the guests but maybe not so much for the bride and groom?
Fun for the guests but maybe not so much for the bride and groom?
8. Sweden: Kissathon
During Swedish weddings, if the groom leaves the room, all male guests are allowed to kiss the bride and vice versa. It’s certainly a strange tradition, but we suppose it ensures that there’s never a dull moment at the wedding reception! So, better not leave your partner alone if you find yourself getting married there. Just to be safe.
Just to be safe.
9. South Korea: Goose Gift
In traditional Korean weddings, the groom gives his future mother-in-law a live goose or duck, symbolizing his fidelity and commitment to her daughter. Nowadays, modern grooms often present a wooden goose instead as a more practical alternative. Not everyone wants a real live goose on hand!
10. Scotland: Blackening of the Bride
This messy Scottish tradition involves friends and family throwing all sorts of nasty things at the bride and groom, covering them in a gooey mix. While it may seem unpleasant, the ritual is meant to prepare the couple for any hardship or embarrassment they might face in marriage. Don't worry though, this ritual is performed days or weeks prior to the wedding, meaning the bride's beautiful gown won't be destroyed.
Don't worry though, this ritual is performed days or weeks prior to the wedding, meaning the bride's beautiful gown won't be destroyed.
11. Indonesia: No Bathroom Breaks
In the Tidong community in Indonesia, newlyweds aren’t allowed to use the bathroom for three days and nights post-wedding. This peculiar tradition is believed to bring luck to the couple, and they are carefully watched to ensure they follow the rule. If there's ever a time to test your bladder, now's the time!
If there's ever a time to test your bladder, now's the time!
12. Greece: Dancing With Money
At traditional Greek weddings, guests pin money to the bride’s dress while she dances. It’s not just a fun spectacle, but it’s also a practical way for the couple to receive some financial help as they start their new life together. Now this is one marriage tradition we can stand behind!
13. Fiji: Whale’s Tooth Gift
In Fiji, when a man asks for his girlfriend’s hand in marriage, he presents his father-in-law-to-be with a whale’s tooth. It’s an odd but fascinating custom as it symbolizes both wealth and status. It’s meant to show that the suitor can provide for his wife.
14. Russia: Wedding Ransom
In Russia, the groom must “ransom” his bride from her family. The groom has to complete a series of challenges, ranging from paying actual money to performing silly tasks. It’s all done in the name of love! There's no need to worry as it's meant to be a funny and entertaining celebration.
It’s all done in the name of love! There's no need to worry as it's meant to be a funny and entertaining celebration.
15. Peru: Cake Pull
Peruvian weddings have a unique custom called “la tirada de la torta” where single female guests pull a ribbon attached to the wedding cake. Each ribbon has a charm, but one special ribbon is attached to a faux wedding ring. Whoever pulls the ring is said to be the next in line to tie the knot. So, let’s all raise a glass to these wonderful, wacky wedding traditions!
Whoever pulls the ring is said to be the next in line to tie the knot.At the end of the day, marriage customs, no matter how peculiar, are always brimming with deep meaning and symbolism. They remind us of the diversity that makes this world a magical place and the many different ways we celebrate love across the globe.
So, let’s all raise a glass to these wonderful, wacky wedding traditions!