Holidays - Weddings
By: - at January 25, 2015

15 Unusual Wedding Rituals

Wedding plans for even the most simplistic, traditional weddings can still be very stressful to organize and manage. Even if the bride isn't considered what TV shows refer to as a "bridezilla," most brides and family members of either side of the couple in question want every component of the wedding to run as perfectly as possible. Caterers need to be paid, meals have to be planned, churches or venues for the actual ceremony need to reserved, and reception halls or hotel ballrooms need to be decorated and appointed in the most specific manner. The support of family and friends is absolutely essential in order to get everything accomplished during the days leading up to the wedding day.

Topless Wedding:
Topless Wedding

However, there are wedding traditions that make simple preparations like choosing a gown seem trivial, when compared to the preparations necessary to orchestrate some of the odd wedding traditions that are listed below. Here are 15 strange wedding rituals to peak your curiosity and to question why would anyone want their day to include any of these odd behaviors. After most "bridezillas" or brides' mothers who have completely lost their minds on caterers or florists read these obscure wedding activities, it is very likely they will look back on all their screaming and ridiculousness as being one great big overreaction. Usually when brides lose their minds during the days leading up to their special day, their frustrations are always misplaced and never really about what they claim is upsetting them. Its funny that something as simple as getting the wrong colored flowers or a limousine that is of a different variety than their choosing, can lead to shoes or cell phones being thrown and destroyed family relationships.

bridezilla


15)  Blackening of the Bride (and Groom)
The blackening of the bride is a strange wedding tradition that comes from Scotland. Scottish weddings have a number of unique wedding and pre-wedding traditions and rituals, and the blackening ritual is easily one of the weirdest events. When the ritual first began back in the archives of history, just the bride was blackened during the festivity. However, today, grooms are “blackened” as well.

Blackening of the Bride and Groom

Before the wedding is held, friends and family of the bride and groom take the couple by surprise with the blackening ceremony. The “well-wishers” blacken or cover the bride and groom with such substances as eggs, mud, dirt, feathers, flour, syrup – you name it.

Ketchup and Chocolate Syrup Being Splashed on Groom in Scotland:
Ketchup and Chocolate Syrup Being Splashed on Groom in Scotland

Not only that, after the bride-to-be and her intended are covered, they are escorted to local pubs while friends clang pots and pans. The concept behind the humiliating event is to prepare the couple for the difficulties associated with the married life ahead.

Check out this video!


14)  [For] Crying Out Loud!
One tradition, followed by the Tujia people in China requires a good deal of hankies and tissues. The mother and grandmother of the bride-to-be as well as the bride herself, cry with “joy” before and during the nuptials. The crying, it is said, replicates a kind of wedding song. The regional custom, which began in the Sichuan province, was a well-recognized activity until around 1911. Although the ritual is not as popular as it once was, it still is practiced by rural and traditional families.

bride crying out loud

According to older locals, brides who do not cry are considered to lack refinement. If a bride does not cry before or at her wedding then, she is considered a laughing stock in the community. Historically, some mothers have even beat their daughters if they did not wail or shed tears at the event.

bride-crying

As a result, crying is often exaggerated at a wedding. In fact, some families even believe the bride-to-be should cry each day for a month before she is betrothed. After the first ten days of sobbing, the bride’s mother and grandmother join in as a supporting “chorus.”

Traditional Qing Dynasty Chinese Wedding Dress with Phoenix Crown Headpiece:
Traditional Qing Dynasty Chinese Wedding Dress with Phoenix Crown Headpiece
By Kelidimari via Wikimedia Commons


13)  Chick Livers Decide the Wedding Date
If you think it is difficult to come up with a date for your own wedding celebration, you should try planning the event like the Daur people do. The people, who reside primarily in Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang Province, choose their wedding date by inspecting the liver of a baby chick.

Daur People:
Representation of Daur People and Culture

During the inspection ceremony, the bride and groom join hands, holding a knife in between them with their other hand. Held in the home of the groom’s parents, the couple kill the baby bird before cutting out its liver for examination. If the liver appears to be in poor shape, then the engaged couple must wait to set a date.

baby chicks

After a healthy liver is found, an engagement feast is held and attended by friends and family. The bride and groom consume a bowl of alcohol, linking arms as they drink.

Chicken Livers:
Chicken Livers


12)  No Toilets Allowed
One tradition that is not a fortuitous event for anyone with a small bladder is held in the Tidong community of northern Borneo as well as other Malaysian locales. Engaged couples are not permitted to urinate or defecate for a period of three days.

toilet
By Jarlhelm via Wikimedia Commons

Couples are watched closely by their loved ones and given little water or food. This ritual is followed to ensure that the upcoming marriage is successful and that the couple will have a happy and healthy family.

Bride and Groom in Traditional Tidong Dress:
Bride and Groom in Traditional Tidong Dress


11)  Spitting Fathers
If you are a member of a Maasai tribe in Africa, then you will have a somewhat unpleasant experience ahead of you if you plan to get married. Wedding ceremonies, among this group of people in Kenya, begin with the bride’s head being shaved. After the shaving, oil and lamb fat are applied to the scalp. The custom, however, is becoming less common, primarily because many people in the Maasai tribe today believe that the tradition is a degrading activity.

Young Maasai Tribe Members Performing Jumping Dance:
Young Maasai Tribe Members Performing Jumping Dance
By Bjørn Christian Tørrissen via Wikimedia Commons

The final part of the shaving ceremony is even stranger. During this part of the event, the father of the bride spits on his daughter’s head and breasts. While spitting in Kenya is considered a sign of disgrace, it is thought to be lucky among the Maasai. Once the father spits on his daughter, she leaves with her husband - never to return.

Maasai Bride Getting Spat On:
Maasai Bride Getting Spat On





10)  Swedish Kisses
While the Swedes practice many traditional activities during a wedding ceremony, the oddest custom involves kissing – not between the bride and groom either, but between the couple and the wedding guests. The concept follows the idea that if the bride leaves the wedding reception momentarily, all the women guests can kiss the groom, and if the groom leaves the area, all the men guests can kiss the bride. All, of course, is meant in good fun.

Swedish Wedding by the Sea:
Swedish Wedding by the Sea

In Sweden, weddings usually take place during the afternoon, with the father rarely giving away the bride. Instead of wearing a veil, the bride wears a tiara or crown. Also, it is said that the partner who says, “I do” the loudest during the ceremony will have the upper hand in the marriage.

Golden Wedding Tiara:
Golden Wedding Tiara


9)  Consuming Trash from a Toilet
Not a pleasant thought, to say the least – however, one wedding tradition in France holds that couples consume garbage from a toilet. This custom, which makes you think altogether differently about French cuisine, takes place after the reception. Guests in the wedding party clean up after the festivities, picking up leftover cake, napkins, and any debris off the floor. The garbage is then thrown into a toilet bowl. Guests then proceed to barge into the newlyweds’ room and refuse to leave until the slop is consumed.

trash from a toilet

While clean toilet bowls are used today, and chocolate is used to create a kind of “soup,” the whole idea is nevertheless repulsive. Eating the garbage, it is believed, will give the couple the needed energy for the night of passion ahead. It's unclear why the happy couple will not eat oysters instead. After all, the shellfish were a breakfast food of the well-known lothario, Casanova – indeed, a much more palatable form of sustenance to consume during one’s honeymoon.

Wedding in Angers, France:
Wedding in Angers, France


8)  Spartan Brides Were Bald
While the brides of today may spend hours at the hairdresser to perfect their style, ancient Spartan brides did not undergo such preliminaries. Instead, they did away with their locks by totally shaving their heads and donning men’s clothes and sandals.

Spartan Bride:
Spartan Bride

The bride then lied down in a dark room, waiting for her groom to sweep her up so they could spend time with one another. Afterwards, the bride was dropped off by the groom at her parents’ home - all which completed the whole wedding ceremony!

Design on Spartan Pottery:
Design on Spartan Pottery

Some historians suggest that Spartan weddings were conducted in this manner to acclimate the groom with the idea of a heterosexual union. Because homosexuality was common at the time, women were not considered to be socially significant in Spartan society, Spartan men had to be coached then into preferring the heterosexual way of life.


7)  The Groom Shoots His Bride
While it is not a “shotgun” wedding, it is definitely a wedding where someone is shot – namely, the bride in this case. The Yugur people, which reside in northwestern China in the Gansu Province, are a minority ethnic group that number around 13,000. They are descendants of the nomadic Huige people who lived during the Tang Dynasty.

Tang Dynasty in 700 AD:
Tang Dynasty in 700 AD
By Ian Kiu via Wikimedia Commons

Today, the Yugur people hold elaborate and large wedding ceremonies that usually last around two days. Typically, on day one, the ceremony is held in the home of the bride and on the second day, the nuptials take place at the home of the groom.

However, the strangest custom that is followed before the ceremony is the shooting of three arrows with a bow – a practice that takes place before the ceremony. The groom aims and shoots the arrows at his bride. Fortunately, the heads of the weaponry are removed before the activity.

Tibetan Archer:
Tibetan Archer
 By Bundesarchiv via Wikimedia Commons

In the Yugur culture, shooting the three arrows means that the groom loves his bride and that they will live together until they die. Once the bride has been “shot,” the wedding proceeds as planned.


6)  Indian Shoe Theft
One playful wedding tradition that is practiced in India is called the Jutti Chipai. It takes place when the Indian couple have reached the mandap – a temporary and elaborately outfitted structure used for Indian weddings. At this point in the ceremony, the bride and groom remove their shoes and sit during the main part of the event.

Traditional Mandap:
Traditional Mandap

For fun, the bride hides the groom’s shoes, which he tries to locate after the end of the drawn-out nuptials. The bridesmaids take part in the fun as well, asking that the groom pay them a ransom in order to retrieve his shoes. Usually, the groom acquiesces and pays the bridesmaids’ demand.

Indian Bride:
Indian Bride
By Prakhar Amba via Wikimedia Commons


5)  Mothers Who Get Personal
In some villages throughout Africa, mothers do the unthinkable. They go to bed with the bride and groom on their wedding night. The practice is followed so the mother can show the couple how to have sex – considered particularly beneficial for couples who have not had sex prior to getting wed. A village elder, in some instances, may take on the mother’s role instead.

talk about sex

Traditional African Wedding Clothes:
Traditional African Wedding Clothes


4)  Kidnapping the Bride
Kidnapping a bride—also known as marriage by abduction—fortunately does not occur as often as it once did. Many human rights organizations are working stringently to prevent these occurrences. However, men still kidnap women for their brides in such areas of the world as Europe, Mexico, and Southeast Asia. Kidnapping is also a significant issue in Kyrgyzstan and on the African continent.

Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan:
Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan


3)  Feet That Smell Like Fish
If your groom’s feet smell like fish in South Korea, it is not due to a foot odor problem. A ritual, known as Balaka, is practiced where the groom is tied up and his socks and shoes are taken off by “well-wishers” after the wedding ceremony. His friends then proceed to take dead fish and beat the bottoms of his feet. Guests may also use canes during the beating too. The practice is done “all in good fun” during the wedding night.

fish shoes


2)  Russian Blackmail
In Russia, there is a particularly interesting wedding tradition whereby the groom must “pay up” if he wants to see his bride before the wedding day. The bride’s family blocks the path to their home to keep the groom from seeing his bride. In turn, they typically ask him questions or request that he perform ridiculous activities in order to move up the "bridal" path.

Russian Wedding and Blocking Bridal Path:
Russian Wedding and Blocking Bridal Path

Sometimes family members will bring out someone wearing a veil in order to trick the groom. At one time, the tradition was part of a folk performance and was therefore a major event in the community. The activity allowed people in a village to have some fun before a local couple's wedding day.


1)  Pass the Rolling Pin
“Pass the Rolling Pin” is an unusual, if not unique, wedding game played by the Polish people. During the activity, participants form a circle and pass a rolling pin to each other between their legs during the reception.

rolling pin

After the game is played, a DJ will typically guide the guests through what is called the “Money Dance,” or the “Czepek Dance.” Money is collected from each guest in return for a chance to dance with the bride or groom. After all the guests have danced with either the bride or groom, the couple enjoy a dance. The collected money is then counted and given as a gift to the newlyweds.


Conclusion
Although planning a wedding can be stressful, it pales by comparison to some of the wedding rituals practiced around the world. No doubt about it - it is better to have trouble making a dress selection than to be spit on by your father or get beat on the feet with a cane or a rancid and smelly fish. Traditions are practiced, in some instances, by cultural minorities, where the people only number in the thousands. Wherever the customs are held, they definitely add a bit of interest to the marriage celebration.



 

 

 

 

Weddings
15 Unusual Wedding Rituals
25 Strange Facts About Wedding Traditions

Wedding


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