Like many others, I never attend a wedding without having first purchased my little box of confetti, which is secreted away until the moment of release when the newly weds are bombarded with a shower of brightly coloured paper. It didn’t strike me until very recently to question why I throw little pieces recyclable, biodegradable, non-toxic, flame retardant heart-felt congratulations over my friends and family …
This tradition started many hundreds of years ago where guests scattered the happy couple with grains and fruit to signify their wish for them to a fruitful union – now that makes sense, if indeed they have any inclination or desire to start a family!
It got me thinking about some of the other strange traditions surrounding weddings and I’ve come up with my top ten weird and wonderful wedding rituals, past and present …
In Samoa the bridal dress is made from the bark of a mulberry tree.
2. Ransom of the Bride
In some parts of Russia, the bride’s family block the pathway to her home, whilst they challenged the groom to demonstrate some of his talents – strength, intelligence and various other skills. If he failed in any of the challenges he had to pay a ransom for his bride.
3. Blackening of the Bride and Groom
In Scotland the tradition was to blacken the bride and/or groom with tar, feathers, treacle etc prior to the wedding. Once blacked the individual or couple were paraded through the streets whilst ‘friends’ announced the impending nuptials. Some people think that this process prepares the person for any humiliation that life has yet to bring!
4. Pass the Rolling Pin
In Poland, wedding guests stand in a circle and pass a rolling pin from one person to the next – but no hands are allowed in the process! Nobody seems sure of the origins of this one, but everybody agrees it makes great video footage.
5. Slaughtering a Cow
In traditional zulu weddings, the groom’s family slaughters a cow to welcome the bride. The bride places money inside the stomach of the cow to symbolize that she is now part of the family.
This is a South Korean tradition where the groom’s friends beat the bottom of his bare feet with a fish on the night of his wedding (after tying him up of course). Again, nobody is quite sure of the reasons behind this one – answers on a postcard please!
7. Inspecting a Baby Chick’s Liver
The Daur people of China base their predications of a happy marriage on the liver of a baby chick. As the couple set the date, they share a knife to cut open a chick to inspect its liver – a healthy liver signifies a flourishing union; a bad liver and quite frankly the wedding is off!
8. Post wedding in Kenya
In Kenya, the first month after the wedding the groom should wear women’s clothes to fully understand how hard it is being a woman! I say, why limit this to Kenya?!
9. How Big is Your Lip?
The women of the Surma tribe of Ethiopia remove their lower teeth some weeks prior to the wedding, pierce their lip and insert a clay disk. From time to time the disc is replaced by a larger diameter disk. The larger the disk, the bigger the dowry. What people will do to earn a buck!
10. To Catch a Rat
Can you suggest any more traditions we have missed in our list?
- Written by: +Tina Taylor