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5 Weird Wedding Traditions around the World

If you’re thinking of getting married, you may want to consider incorporating some of these wedding traditions in your festivities.

Though weddings are a universal celebration performed around the world, many of the rituals surrounding the practice vary greatly depending on the country and its culture. Listed below are five peculiar Wedding traditions from around the world.

1. Kidnapping the Bride (Romania)

wedding traditions


In Bucharest, a tradition called “bride kidnapping” dates back to antiquity, to a time when most marriages were arranged. According to legend, the tradition began when Romans, wanting to populate the city, began inviting members of the Sabine tribe (famous for its beautiful women) to large celebrations for the sole purpose of snatching their wives, sisters and daughters. While today the ritual has taken on a frightening form in some countries, the tradition in Bucharest is a more lighthearted affair, often involving a party in which brides are dragged away in a mock abduction before being driven to a popular tourist spot or landmark. Once there, they are held hostage, posing provocatively for the eager cameras while awaiting a ransom which has been negotiated previously (typically a few bottles of whiskey or a public plea of love from the groom). Often the kidnapped brides dance and sing while motorists cruise around the monument or landmark, honking, waving and cheering. “Everything was staged and ready in my case,” said 25-year-old Bride Alisar Dragne. “The limousine was waiting for me in front of the restaurant, I was given the ‘leave’ signal by my friends and together we came here to have some fun. Now everyone’s [wondering] what the ransom [will be].”

2. Spitting on the Bride (Kenya)

wedding traditions

Getty Images

Among the Maasai people of Kenya, spitting is seen as a symbol of good luck and fortune. Aside from spitting on newborn Maasai babies to ward off bad luck, Maasai tribesmen often spit on their hands before approaching elders as a sign of respect. And at weddings it’s customary for the father of the bride to bless his daughter by spitting on her. Because marriages are arranged without consulting the bride, both families come to an agreement (typically a negotiation involving the number of cows the family of the groom will exchange for the bride). When the wedding day arrives, the bride adorns herself in colorful necklaces fashioned from beads and shells. During the ceremony, the bride’s head is shaved. After lamb fat and oil are applied to her head, the father of the bride blesses his daughter by spitting on her head and breasts. In other instances, tribeswomen will bathe the bride with sandalwood or paint her skin with henna while an elderly woman (often referred to as a Somo) instructs the bride on how to please her new husband.

3. Falaka, or Beating the Groom’s Feet (South Korea)

wedding traditions

Michael Kwok via Flickr

In South Korea, following a wedding ceremony, some grooms are subjected to a certain ritual before they can depart with their new wives. The ritual, often referred to as “falaka,” involves groomsmen and family members of the groomsmen removing the groom’s shoes and socks before binding his ankles with a sash or rope and taking turns beating his feet with a stick (or, in some cases, a dried fish called a yellow corvina). The ritual, which is designed to test the newly-wedded husband’s strength and character, holds an important place in Korean culture.

4. The Crying Ritual (China)

wedding traditions

Photo by Leisa Tyler / LightRocket via Getty Images

Though many cultures practice unique wedding rituals, perhaps none are as strange as the custom of crying before marriage. Aside from enduring the usual emotional pressures of getting married, female members of southwest China’s Sichuan Province are required to cry at their wedding. If the bride doesn’t weep, the social (and sometimes physical) consequences can be harsh. In many cases, if the bride doesn’t cry during the ceremony, she will be socially ostracized by her neighbors and friends. In some reported extreme cases, the bride has been beaten by her mother. Depending on the region, the specifics of the ritual vary. In the western region of the Sichuan Province, for example, the custom is referred to as “Zuo Tang” and requires the bride to sit in a hall and cry. During the month preceding the nuptials, the bride-to-be walks into a large hall each night and weeps for approximately an hour. After 10 days her mother joins her, and the two cry together. Ten days later the grandmother joins the group, followed by the bride’s sisters and aunts. At some point during the process, the random weeping gradually transforms into a song (aptly titled the “Crying Marriage Song”). The true purpose of the ritual is to establish a mood of happiness and playfulness by requiring the bride to pantomime weeping. Sadly, many of the brides are truly unhappy with their lives and their choice of husband, so the sorrow many of them express is authentic.

5. Blackening of the Bride and Groom (Scotland)

wedding traditions

Photo by Lynn Campbell via Flickr

In parts of Scotland (predominantly in rural areas of northeast Scotland, the Highlands and the Northern Isles) grooms- and brides-to-be are subjected to a particularly unusual ritual known as “blackening.” Prior to the wedding, the bride and groom are taken captive by their friends, stripped, bound and “blackened” with a mixture of custard, treacle, rotten eggs, soot, mustard, spoiled curry, feathers and flour before being paraded through the streets of the city. Typically the bride and groom sit in a bathtub in the bed of a truck and are driven through town while their “captors” clatter pots and pans, bang drums, beat sticks, blow whistles and shout to draw as much attention as possible. Though blackening is much more common in farming communities and on the islands, researchers say it’s becoming increasingly popular in Glasgow and the west of Scotland. A native of the area, Amber Love, explained the tradition and its recent surge in popularity. “I was tied up with twine and covered in mustard, custard, all sorts of different things,” she said. “My friends from home [have experienced] the blackenings as well. They loved it. They thought it was really good fun. I’m not surprised that more people are having blackenings now. It’s good to keep these traditions alive, for luck especially.” Originally performed to ward off evil spirits, the ritual seems to have evolved from an earlier Scottish ritual called “feet washing.” According to Dr. Sheila Young, a researcher at the Elphinstone Institute at the University of Aberdeen, the original “feet washing” tradition included a blackening of the feet and legs on the eve of a couple’s wedding. By the late 19th century, however, Young says the tradition had transformed into a capture-and-escape-oriented ritual. It most likely originated from ancient Celtic beliefs concerning the symbolic power of fairy abduction. end


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5 Weird Wedding Traditions around the World


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