Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Wedding traditions from all over the world

Being American, I've heard of a lot of different wedding traditions that actually hail from different cultures. But I guess that's just how it goes -- as people immigrate here from other countries, they incorporate their wedding traditions, which friends from other cultures might think is cool and incorporate into their wedding, and so on and so forth until no one is sure anymore where the tradition came from.

Photo by Flickr's Hanson Switzky

For example, here is probably the most well-known of non-American wedding tradition -- the smashing of a glass at a Jewish wedding. It's been made famous in countless movies (by Adam Sandler a few times, I think), but where did it come from? There are different explanations, of course. The photographer, Hanson Switzky, captioned the photo:
This Jewish folk custom symbolizes many things, including the irrevocability and permanency of marriage, the broken world that requires our unwavering commitment and joyous energy to mend, and, on a happier note, the countless prismatic shards of glass represent the countless colorful and bright years of joy ahead for the couple.

Anyway, I stumbled on this very cool (and long!) article, detailing wedding traditions from all over the world. It's not quite comprehensive, but it sure is on its way there!

Photo by Flickr's

I saw this tradition in action for the first time earlier this year, when my friend Belinda got married. According to this article:

The most common tradition is ‘jumping the broom’, a ritual originating from the Deep South during the American Civil War when slave weddings were not permitted and so an alternative commitment ceremony had to be found. The broom is placed on the floor and the couple jumps over it. But what does it signify? Well, there seem to be various explanations ranging from a jump from singledom into matrimony, following an African tribal marriage ritual of placing sticks on the ground representing the couple's new home or it could just be sweeping away the old and welcoming the new. A nice touch is to fill a basket with ribbon pieces for guests to tie around the broom before you begin.

Photo by Flickr's tamaranash

I think we like anything that hails from Hawaii, because of the projection of paradise, romance and free island living. However, Hawaiians do have traditions too! And they mean something! Regarding the traditional maile lei:

The lei is the Hawaiian symbol of love. During the ceremony the kahuna pule (religious man) binds the hands of the bride and groom with leis as a symbol of the couple's commitment to each other.

Photo by Flickr's C.P.Storm

Of course, we're all familiar with the Chinese fortune cookie. The article says, "Serve fortune cookies (easy to bake yourselves) filled with good wishes." Fortune cookies, of course, are very in fashion -- the message inside could be the date of your wedding, a favorite quote or Bible verse or a silly saying like the one above.

Photo by Flickr's Duane a

The traditional money dance, according to the article, is done in both Greek and Filipino cultures. According to the article:

If you opt for any Greek tradition it is likely to be the money dance. Instead of giving gifts, your guests will pin several notes to your outfits during this almost never-ending dance!

However, when I've seen this in action, this was in addition to gifts, rather than instead of giving gifts. I've seen this tradition in action so many times, brides would often ask my mom for an extra box of pins for their money dances.

These are just a few traditions. Check out the list, its pretty comprehensive, but I can't imagine that its complete. If you have any other traditions to include, comment away!

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