Tying the Knot Wedding Traditions from around the world… Source: http://www.worldweddingtraditions.com/ The word “wed” is derived from the ancient Greek word for “pledge.” And that’s exactly what a wedding is, no matter what country it takes place in, no matter what culture it’s part of. To wed is to pledge yourself to another. There are few acts we perform that are more pure or more beautiful than the act of marriage. Marriage is the most solemn pledge we make in our lifetimes. Traditionally the wedding pledge is made in front of family and friends who take special pains to stand up and witness our pledge. The wedding pledge is to be true and faithful and loving to another human being. To wed is both the most basic of all human pledges, and at the same time the most sublime. Marriage carries with it the most solemn of promises, but it also embodies the potential for the greatest joy of human existence – the pure joy that flows from two hearts beating as one. There are few joys in life as deep or as long lasting as the joy that springs from the well of true love and a lasting marriage. Soul Mates Two people that are so in-tune with the wants and the needs and the desires of the other that often words are not necessary. A mere glance between two lovers speaks volumes. In almost all cultures the marriage ceremony ends with the exchanging of a kiss. The wedding kiss transcends cultures; it is one of the very few things that bind all of us together as human beings. From ancient times to the modern day, from the deepest jungles to the tallest skyscrapers, the wedding kiss symbolizes for all people everywhere the physical uniting of two souls. An African wedding is, more than anything, the bringing together of two people as a single family, or the combining of two families or tribes into one family unit. Wedding ceremonies are large and colorful celebrations that can last several days. There are more than 1,000 cultural units in Africa and each culture, each tribe has its own wedding and marriage traditions. In many places in Africa young girls are trained to be good wives from an early age. They may even learn secret codes and secret languages that allow them to talk with other married women without their husbands understanding what is being said. In Sudan and in other areas along the Nile a man must pay his wife’s family in sheep or cattle for the loss of their daughter’s labor in support of the family. A wife may cost a man as many as 30 to 40 head of cattle. Often it is difficult to pay the family yet still have enough cattle left to support his new wife. In Somalia a man is allowed to have as many as four wives if he can support them all, and it is not uncommon for a girl to be engaged before she is even born. In Japan, the color purple represents love and a young bride may choose to wear an elaborately-embroidered silk kimono covered in purple iris-flowers. Weddings are traditionally either Shinto, during which the natural spirits-- the kami-- are called upon to bless the couple, or it might be a Buddhist ceremony during which two strings of beads are interwoven, symbolizing the joining of two families into one. Chinese traditions held that the gift of a whole roast pig given by the groom’s family to the bride’s family was an appropriate engagement gift. The traditional wedding gown in China is bright red, symbolizing luck for the new couple. Chinese bridal gowns are traditionally adorned with elaborate golden phoenixes, chrysanthemums and peonies, symbols of wealth and good fortune. The groom traditionally wears a black silk coat over a robe embroidered with a dragon, and you can expect loud firecrackers at a Chinese wedding to scare off evil spirits. In Indonesia it is not uncommon for more than 1,000 guests to be invited to the wedding reception and it is customary for the bride and the groom to greet each guest in a long receiving line before the reception festivities can begin. In Korea it is traditional for a fortune-teller, known as a kung-hap, to look into the couple’s future before they are married in order to see if they will live harmoniously together. A harmonious union is very important since the engagement gifts alone for a traditional Korean wedding can cost upwards of $40,000. Asia Chinese character “Ai”-- Love Traditional Chinese Wedding Dress Japanese Wedding with White Kimono Korean Wedding In many parts of the Middle East it is common for five different parties to be thrown for the wedding ceremony. 1. Engagement party-- The bride and groom invite family and friends and a festive party is thrown, with special foods and much dancing and singing and happy music. Engagement parties can go on late into the night. During the party the bride often changes her dress up to five times!! The second party takes place on the day the bride and groom go to the courthouse and sign their marriage contract. Again family and friends are invited and there is much celebration, much music and dancing and song. Once again, it is customary for the bride to change her dress as often as five times during the party. The third party takes place one day before the wedding and is second only in size to the party on the wedding day itself. This third party is named the Hena party. The word Hena might sound familiar; It’s a dye that is used to make special tattoos to the hands and feet of the bride, especially, to ward off evil spirits. This is also the party at which the “grinding” takes place. In many parts of the Middle East the bride and groom are seated while several unmarried girls hold a white cloth on their heads. The “grinding girl” then grinds together two lumps of sugar above the couples’ heads while asking God (Allah) to repel all evil spirits from the young couple’s life. It is traditional for the bride to wear a green dress at the Hena party and the party traditionally continues until dawn on the day of the wedding. Following the wedding itself, at which the bride and groom exchange wedding rings – it is thought, by the way, that the wedding ring originated in the Middle East – there is the biggest party of them all. This wedding party is very similar to the receptions following U.S. and European weddings, with speeches, and much dancing and singing and traditional Middle Eastern music. Very often each guest is given five almond pieces, each almond piece symbolizing one of the five sacred wedding wishes: health, happiness, wealth, fertility and longevity. The Middle East Veiled Muslim brides wait for their mass wedding. In Belize, weddings are a very joyous occasion. Fiends and family fill the church while the rest of the villagers peer in through the doors and windows, anxious not to miss a moment. While the groom and his best man stand at the alter, the bride waits outside the church until the moment of her grand entrance. Unlike a more sedate North American wedding, the bride may waltz or strut or dance to the alter, accompanied by her father or another male member of the family. As is true almost the world over, at the conclusion of a Belize wedding ceremony (almost always Catholic) the bride and groom exchange rings, the universal symbol of never-ending love, and then kiss to seal their union before family and friends. In Guatemala, it is common for girls to marry quite young and to have many children. It is important for everyone, from the youngest baby to the oldest grandparent or great grandparent to attend a wedding. Flowers are everywhere and there is much dancing and singing and happy, joyous music everywhere. In a traditional Guatemalan wedding it is customary for the bride and groom to be bound together with a silver rope symbolizing their eternal union. It is also common for the bride and her bridesmaids and her flower girls to all wear matching white wedding gowns. About 40% of all weddings in Guatemala are Mayan, and follow ancient Mayan customs and traditions. Flowers are everywhere at a Guatemalan wedding, and the ceremony is followed by much singing and dancing and rejoicing. Central America There is no such thing as a best man at a Caribbean Island wedding. The bride’s father or often both of her parents escort her down the aisle with her face hidden by a veil. At the end of the ceremony, which is often a mixture of Catholic and Mayan and African, the groom lifts the veil and kisses his new bride to the cheering of family and friends. A Caribbean Island wedding reception can go on all night, with traditional steel-drum island music, lots and lots of sweet but potent rum punch, wild dancing and many toasts to the health and happiness of the new couple. Among the many wonderful hand-made gifts which are traditional at Caribbean weddings are exquisite hand-made quilts and homemade furniture. A typical wedding feast features curried goat and spicy chicken jerky The food at a typical island reception reflects the uniqueness of the Islands. Where else in the world would you find curried goat, spicy chicken jerky, fried plantains and conch fritters at a wedding feast? Caribbean According to German wedding tradition, when a baby girl is born in Germany, several trees are planted in honor of her birth. When her wedding date is set, the trees are sold, and the money is used for her dowry. A unique German pre-wedding custom is the creation of a wedding newspaper by the friends and family of the bride and groom. This newspaper, or booklet, is filled with pictures, articles and stories of the engaged couple. The newspaper is sold at the wedding reception, to assist with the expenses of the honeymoon. A traditional wedding day, in Germany, could actually last three days. First, German couples who are getting married must have a civil ceremony at the city center, which only family and close friends attend. The next night is the big wedding party. The bride and groom invite all of their friends, neighbors and acquaintances. German wedding tradition says it's good luck for guests to bring old dishes to break. The newlyweds then sweep up the broken pieces together, symbolizing that nothing will ever be broken in their house again. On the third day, the German religious wedding ceremony takes place. German brides do not have traditional wedding attendants except for flower girls. Sometime during the vows, when the couple are on their knees, the groom might kneel on his brides wedding dress to show who will be 'wearing the pants' in the relationship. When they stand, the bride might step on her groom's foot to show otherwise. German As the newlyweds leave the wedding chapel, they throw coins to the children watching.