Op 14: Weddings

Weddings are events where the guests get to experience a plethora of emotions. Anticipation as they wait for the bride to walk down the aisle. Amazement at how beautiful the bride looks in her white gown. Worry, because their tears of joy which stream down their face as they watch the bride and groom declare their love for each other, might leave mascara marks on their face. Laughter as the bride shoves cake into the groom’s mouth. Competitiveness as the garter and flower bouquet go flying in the air. However, these customs are only prevalent at western weddings, and the world is filled with unique wedding customs that are often not portrayed in Hollywood movies.

In western countries the groom is always welcome at the wedding ceremony; however, in African countries this is not always the case. In Ethiopia, when the groom and the groomsman reach the bride’s house, her family and friends block the entrance of the house. The groom has to sing loudly as he forces his way inside the house. Hopefully, for the sake of the bride’s family and friends, the groom is able to carry a tune. Once the groom is inside the house, he sprays every room with a strong smelling perfume. Maybe the tradition of trying to keep the groom from entering the house was started by a bride who had allergies.

While in western countries it is common to see a bride dressed in white, certain areas of Japan have taken it to the next level. A bride has to paint her entire body white before the wedding ceremony. In Western cultures it is enough for the bride to represent her virginity with her dress, but in Japan a woman must wear it on her skin. One must wonder if the wedding guests will have scandalous thoughts about the bride if some paint off of her toe rubs off.

It is common for the bride to cry during western weddings. Some of them cry from happiness, some from overwrought nerves, and maybe a few from the lingering pain of the bikini wax from the night before. However, in the Tuija culture of China, it is an obligation for the bride to cry. A bride that does not cry is not only disgraced, but she is also beaten by her mother after the ceremony. I guess the Tuija brides have the option of either crying during the wedding ceremony or after it.

In western cultures, right before the wedding ends, the bride and groom thank the guests for coming and sometimes give them a small wedding gift. On the Marquesas Islands this gift is a back massage. Once the wedding festivities are over, the guests lie down on the floor, and the bride and groom walk across them to the exit door. Aside from the free back massage, the guests also get to enjoy the lovely sound of cracking backs.

After the wedding is over, despite strange and sometimes uncomfortable traditions which the bride and groom have to endure, they get to experience immense pleasure on their honeymoon. Except if the bride and groom are from Northern Borneo. After the wedding, the bride and groom have to spend seventy two hours together without going to the bathroom. To make sure the bride and groom comply with this tradition, family members guard the bathroom door. This tradition is supposed to bring the bride and groom closer together, and a couple who tries to murder family members together, stays together!

What are your favorite wedding traditions?

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