After spending hours at the airport and in the aircraft I finally got to sleep for a little while. I altered my travel plans to make it to (one of) my best friend’s wedding. So, yeah, it was definitely worth it. And while half of my brain was preoccupied with what to wear, the other half was thinking of the weirdest wedding traditions from around the world.
Thankfully, the research’s already out there, so here’s a list of the weirdest (and wackiest) wedding traditions from around the world (ranked from weird to weirdest).
- The Swedish kissing party: When the bride leaves the room it’s traditional for all the women to line up to kiss the groom. And when the groom leaves the room to go to the bathroom then all the men get up and kiss the bride. Note that this is just Swedish, do not try this elsewhere. For best results, don’t try at all!
- Breaking the bell: At a Guatemalan wedding gathering, the mother of the prepare breaks a white ringer to welcome the lovebirds to the gathering. The chime, loaded with flour, rice, and grains, is intended to bring fortunes and success.
- The blackening of the bride (Scotland): The bride and/or groom are ‘captured’ by friends and family, covered in food, or a variety of other – preferably adhesive – substances, then paraded publicly for the community to see. Frequently, the couple is driven in the back of an open-backed truck, accompanied by the clattering and banging of pots and pans by the couple’s ‘captors’. There are no strict rules regarding the act of blackening itself, only that the couple must be rendered messy and uncomfortable, and that as many people as possible should witness the occasion
- To a Whale of a Wife (Fiji): To propose, the groom-to-be presents a wreath of whale’s teeth (‘tabu’) to either the bride or her father. A tabua is a traditional gift in Fijian culture with high value, often used in the past in negotiations between rival chiefs.
- Banging on the first wedding night in France: Not the kind of banging you expect on the first night of your wedding… it’s the gathering of friends and family outside the house of the newlyweds who start banging on pots and pans. Here’s the kicker — the couple has to serve them drinks and snacks! I would’ve given them a piece of… my pie.
- Beating the groom with dead fish in Korea. Following their wedding ceremonies, some South Korean grooms are subjected to a certain ritual before they can leave with their new wives: the beating of their feet. His groomsmen or family members remove the groom’s shoes and bind his ankles with rope before taking turns to beat his feet with a stick or, in some cases, a dried fish. Though obviously painful, the ritual is over quickly and meant to be more amusing than an act of punishment, and apparently – as the groom is often quizzed and questioned during the act – the beating of feet is meant as a test of the newly wedded husband’s strength and character.
- The bridal kidnapping. Ala
kachuuis a form of bride kidnapping still practiced in Kyrgyzstan. The term can apply to a variety of actions, ranging from a consensual elopement to a non-consensual kidnapping, and to what extent it actually happens is controversial. Some sources suggest that currently at least a third of Kyrgyzstan’s brides are taken against their will. It’s a disturbing practice. Some countries have banned it from their common practice. Read more about this here.
- Practicing crying for a month before the wedding in China: The custom of crying marriage existed a long time ago in many areas of Southwest China’s Sichuan Province and remained in vogue until the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Though not so popular as before, the custom is still observed by people in many places, especially Tujia people, who view it as a necessary marriage procedure. It is very much the same in different places in the province. According to elderly people, every bride had to cry at the wedding. Otherwise, the bride’s neighbors would look down upon her as a poorly cultivated girl and she would become the laughingstock of the village. In fact, there were cases in which the bride was beaten by her mother for not crying at the wedding ceremony.
- The mucous of Maasai tradition. The father basically spits on his daughter for good luck before she departs her home with her groom. Yeah, I know, disgusting. But everything’s fair in love and war, right? But the Maasai are a fascinating East African tribe. Learn more about them here.
- The mother accompanying you to your honeymoon night in Africa: According to this African tradition followed by few tribes, the mother often accompanies the couple on their wedding night to educate them about how to spend the night. Honestly, this is way too personal! These mommies are underestimating their daughters don’t you think? Or perhaps, they aren’t. But this is taking education too far!
- Hiding the groom’s shoes (India): ‘Joota Chupai’ or ‘Joota Chori’ rasam literally means ‘hiding shoes’. The bride and the groom are initially asked to remove their shoes before stepping inside the mandap’ where the wedding ceremony takes place. During this time, the bride’s sisters steal the groom’s shoes as a prank and promise to give the shoes back only if they get a handsome fee in return. The inception or the actual origin of this fun-filled tradition is not exactly known, but it has been prevalent for centuries in the larger realm of Indian customs and wedding traditions. I’ve always hated this ritual. I don’t think it’s stupid… but it’s a major waste of time. The groom doesn’t have to have a pair of shoes in the first place. Or is better off having an additional pair of
shoes.One up them instead of falling in the trap. I’m proudly South Indian, we don’t have funny rituals.
- Holding your shit (and pee) together in Borneo: Newlyweds of Tidong tribe are married with their respective tribal traditions and rituals just like us barring only one thing that we in India do not follow. Here, neither the bride nor the groom is allowed to visit a bathroom for three days after the marriage ceremony is accomplished. Man, this is gross! Do you see why this made it to the top? It’s the weirdest bar none!
That’s all the weirdness I can handle for the evening. If you are keen to explore more, click on the hyperlinks above or this Wikipedia page (enlisting wedding customs for each and every country) for more details. There are loads of them, I’ve listed just the ones I found weird.
Time to get dressed up!