There are many different wedding traditions and elements people adhere to in the UK. Most of these are well known. You have the bride tossing up her bouquet to a hopeful bridesmaid who believes if she catches it, she will then be the one to get married next. You have the “something new”, “something borrowed” and “something blue” traditions, which is all about creating good luck.
A lot of these traditions are still used and looked at as being fun, so much so that even a lot of couples that are not so big on tradition will decide to engage in them. However, we are not the only ones who have wedding traditions or customs they believe are important.
Here are a few examples from around the world. Some of these are innocent, while others are a little confusing and others might come off as very strange. The main thing they all share is that they mean well and serve to wish well onto the couple.
There is an age-old French wedding tradition known as Charivari, which means” banging on the wedding night.” This is not the kind of banging you expect on the first night of your wedding. Family and friends gather outside the house of the happy couple and disturb them with loud, raucous behaviour. They would start banging on pots and pans, blowing horns, playing music and whatever else they could think of that would cause the most disturbance until the bride and groom made an appearance.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the couple were expected to provide food and drinks for the noisy revellers.
We might associate France with having great “cuisine”, but another French tradition slightly more stomach churning, known as “La Soupe” is about as far a cry from cordon bleu as you can get. Following the wedding reception, guests would traditionally gather the wedding leftover food and drink and place it in a chamber pot before presenting to the newlyweds to drink, supposedly to give them energy for their wedding night. As good a reason as I can think of not to get married. Thankfully when the tradition is observed nowadays, the bride and groom are usually served a slightly more appealing concoction of chocolate and champagne.
The Congo takes it very seriously
If you’re getting married, then it’s safe to assume that you’re going to be very excited and brimming with anticipation. There will probably be a lot of smiles from you and your spouse. Well in the Congo this isn’t how it goes.
Traditionally the bride and groom are required to keep a lid on their feelings of happiness, and this is for their entire big day all the way until the end. Neither party can smile, because if they do it’s believed that neither is taking the marriage as serious as they should.
I have actually been to a few weddings where I suspect that might have been the protocol.
Indonesia’s show of holding in strength and bonding
How long can you go without going to the bathroom? Would you see not being able to go for three days as a show of strength and bonding for you and your spouse? Well in Indonesia, primarily Borneo, this is exactly how it’s looked at. Bride and groom have to stay in a house for a period of three days, but the goal is to avoid going to the bathroom. I have no idea what happens if one or both sides don’t succeed.
And who said romance is dead?
Russia’s dance moves
In this tradition a Russian man has to go over to the house of the bride’s parents on the day they get married in order to show that he’s worthy. This is done by either offering up a “ransom” for the bride or offering different gifts to the bride’s family. One more option is for the groom to embarrass himself by dancing and singing until the family decides that they just can’t take it anymore.
If you are like me, you will likely do some bad dancing during the reception anyway, so no harm in starting a bit early.
Sweden’s own version of “on your feet, lose your seat”
If you’re the type that gets jealous then you won’t enjoy this wedding reception custom. In Sweden, if the bride gets up from the table for some reason, then other guests are free to come in and sneak a kiss from the groom. The same if the groom gets up, guests are free to come up and kiss the bride. All in good fun, as long as it’s just a peck on the cheek.
A UK tradition but worth mentioning. The term “best man” goes back to the times when Scotsmen kidnapped their future brides. The friend of the groom who had excelled at the abduction was acclaimed to be the best man. Rumour also has it, if the groom does not turn up to the wedding, it is the best man’s responsibility to take over and marry the bride. Awkward if he’s already married, or even worse, your brother. Strange bunch the Scots!
China’s emotional affair
Weddings are often an emotional affair, but in certain parts of China, crying was a required part of preparation for marriage. A month before their forthcoming nuptials, Tujia’s brides would cry for one hour each day. Ten days into the ritual, the bride would be joined by her mother and ten days after that, the bride’s grandmother joins the weeping duo and eventually other female family members would join in the cacophony of crying. The ritual is said to date back to China’s Warring States era when the mother of a princess broke down in tears at her wedding. If I was the groom I would be left wondering if all these tears were down to something I had said, or something I hadn’t said.
All of these traditions are and were designed to be harmless, some more serious than others, but in the end, they all mean well. Maybe you could give one of them a try, but I’d highly recommend discussing it with your spouse first before you decide to give the Congo’s tradition a go.
If you know of any other traditions which are a bit “left field” I would love to hear about them.