14 Extraordinary Ways to Celebrate Marriage Across the Globe
Wedding trends are constantly in flux. What was popular a decade or two ago may not be today, but there are always traditions that stick around generation after generation, and they differ from country to country.
Some are wildly romantic, while others are endlessly perplexing. You may even want to incorporate some into your own nuptials. After all, what new bride or groom wouldn’t want their siblings dancing in ugly socks to earn them money? Check out these rather unique ways folks around the world say, "I do."
Three Days Without Bathroom Breaks in Indonesia
This wedding tradition is like a long road trip between rest stops. In the Tidong community of Indonesia, the bride and groom are forbidden to use the bathroom for three days! The Tidong believe “holding it” brings good luck to the couple who is watched over by several people in that 72-hour period.
To get through it without a hitch, the couple is allowed just a small amount of food and drink, and when the three days are up, it's back to business as usual.
A "Crazy" Reception in Venezuela
In Venezuela, the newly wedded couple and attendees participate in "La Hora Loca" ("The Crazy Hour"). At the reception, everyone really lets their hair down as they don crazy hats, wigs and masks for one hour and make a racket with noisemakers and whistles.
Everyone involved is also expected to dance for the duration. Think it of it as a mini-Carnival or Mardi Gras celebration, smack dab in the middle of a wedding!
Brides Held Hostage in Romania
In Romania, brides are dragged away in a mock kidnapping by friends and held “hostage." They play the part of the captive and strike a pose for the cameras.
Negotiations for the bride take place for a “ransom,” which could be anything from alcohol to the bridegroom's declaration of love. Once he "pays," the bride is released from captivity to her new husband.
Bridal “Fat Camp” in Mauritania
Young women are primed for their lives as wives at "fat camp" in the northwestern African country of Mauritania. The practice is called leblouh, and it roughly means “force feeding.”
Girls are fed up to 16,000 calories a day to prepare them for marriage, as tradition holds that obese women are sexy and a sign of the groom's wealth and status in the community.
If You’re Happy and You Know It, Shed a Tear in China
The Tujia community in China practices the custom of "crying marriage." Brides have to tear up to show their gratitude and love during the wedding, lest anyone think they are uncultured.
They can begin crying up to a month before the blessed event, and their mothers, grandmothers, sisters and aunts may also join in the practice.
Ugly Sock Dance in Canada
While weddings in Canada pretty much follow the traditions of other Westernized countries, in the French-settled areas of Ontario, the groom's older, unmarried siblings must partake in a dance in the ugliest socks they can find. The socks represent their having "cold feet" in terms of marriage.
There is a silver lining for all that embarrassment — the crazier the dance, the more money is thrown at the feet of the dancer who then gives it to the newlyweds to help them as they start their lives together.
Eating From the Toilet in France
This questionable wedding custom is unique to France. "La Soupe" involves wedding day leftovers and a chamber pot, or toilet, to eat them out of. In the early days, when the wedding was over, the bridal party stayed behind to clean up — and by clean up, we mean they put remnants of food and trash into the chamber pot.
As the newlyweds were about to enjoy their first night together as a married couple, the wedding party would barge in and make them drink the nasty concoction to bless them with fertility and good luck. While the tradition continues, today the chamber pot is at least filled with champagne and chocolate.
A Whale’s Tooth for the Intended in Fiji
Want to get married to a Fijian man? He may give your family a sperm whale’s tooth, or tabua. While the practice is more confined to rural areas these days, the tabua is meant to bestow good luck on the impending union.
Tabua are so important to the country's culture, it is illegal to remove them from Fiji.
A Celebratory Wedding Parade in the U.S.
This particular wedding custom made its way from Europe to the U.S. and was practiced through the middle part of the 20th century, mostly by frontier folk. Today, there are still a few rural areas that take part in shivaree (or charivari) or the hazing of the newlywed couple on their wedding night, but the practice has, for the most part, died out.
Some shivarees are friendly, in which newlyweds are gifted with things they need to start their lives together, while others prank couples with cacophonous noise often made from banging pots and pans. There’s also a parade in which the couple is carried around town in support of, or opposition to, their upcoming nuptials.
The Rite of Blackening in Scotland
The “blackening" custom of a soon-to-be wedded couple is much like that of shivaree. The bride and groom are part of a hazing ritual in which they are taken captive and anyone who wishes can take part as they are tied to a chair and covered with everything from food to feathers.
The Scots believe that if any couple can withstand the humiliation of this ritual, everything else they encounter will be a piece of cake.
Saliva Spells Good Wishes in Kenya
Spitting in other cultures may be considered rude, but not for Kenya's Maasai people, who consider it a sign of respect. Spitting is used in greetings, farewells, wishes of good luck and, you guessed it, wedding blessings.
During the ceremony, the father of the bride blesses her by spitting on her forehead and breasts.
Logging for Love in Germany
If you're up for a little hard work during your wedding, get married in Germany.
There, it's customary for a betrothed couple to use a long, two-handled saw to cut through a log, which serves as a representation of obstacles they may face in their marriage.
Bovines for the Betrothed in Sudan
In Southern Sudan, cows weigh heavily in the marriages of the Nuer people. If the groom wants to get married, he has to pay the bride's family in cattle.
Even after the ceremony, the deal is not complete until two children are born to the wedded couple. If a divorce takes place before that happens and only one child is born, the groom can choose between keeping his cows or his offspring.
Wedding Toe Rings in India
This Hindu custom remains part of many wedding traditions in India and has its roots in the story of Sita, a goddess who was said to have been a consort. When she was kidnapped by a demon king, she left her toe ring behind as a clue for her rescuer.
Today, she remains a symbol of the spousal virtues of purity and dedication. As part of the wedding ceremony, the groom puts a ring, or bichiya, on the bride's second toes to symbolize their union.