A gorgeous gown (or two or three), your dashing groom, pristine blooms, all your loved ones, and clinking crystal flutes that cheer on love and romance – that’s all you need for a perfect wedding. Right? Well, not necessarily so for these cultures below:
1. Scotland: The blackening
The Blackening is a traditional Scottish wedding custom where the bride and groom both get covered in anything dirty and disgusting – be it mud, tar, rotten eggs, you name it! The couple is then either tied to a tree or thrown into the back of an open truck and paraded around town with the goal being for as many people as possible to witness the spectacle. This tradition in Scotland is meant to symbolise the hardships of marriage. It’s believed that if a couple can endure this tradition together, they can weather the trials and tribulations of marriage.
2. Mauritania: Fat farms
Most brides go on a diet to lose weight before their big day, but in a part of Mauritania, it’s the complete opposite. A bigger girl is seen as more attractive, so girls are often sent to ‘fat farms’ from as young as five years old, to be fed an absurd amount of high-calorie foods to gain weight in a tradition known as leblouh. A more rotund wife is also an indication of a wealthy husband, so often brides will consume up to 16,000 calories per day to prepare herself for her wedding day. The markers of a beautiful bride are heavy stomach flab, thighs that overlap, and thick, fatty ripples in her neck. If the bride develops stretch marks, she is considered even more beautiful.
3.Russia: Vykup nevesty (Buying out the bride)
The Russian tradition of vykup nevesty sounds similar to the Chinese ‘gatecrashing games’ tradition. A groom will go to the bride’s home with his close friends and relatives and attempt to pick up his bride. The bridesmaids will meet him at the door with a list of challenges that must be passed before he can proceed. He may have to pay a ransom, do a dance, sing a song, or recite poems. The groom may even initially be offered an alternate bride, which is usually a male friend dressed in a dress and a veil. It’s all done in jest and played out as a joke.
4. Borneo: Holding your poo (and pee) together
Newlyweds of the Tidong tribe of Borneo observe a wedding tradition that bans them from using the bathroom for three days after the wedding. It’s believed that if the bathroom is used during this period, it’ll bring bad luck to the marriage – such as infidelity and the death of their children at a young age. After the three days are up, the newlyweds are bathed and allowed to return to their normal lives.
In India, a wedding is much more than two people in love deciding to spend their lives together.
5. Romania: Kidnapping the bride
In Romania, some brides will find themselves in a make-believe hostage situation where they’re first ‘kidnapped’ and then a ransom is negotiated. Often, the bride is taken to a night club to party while the groom works out a ransom with the fake hostage-takers. The Romanian custom dates back to Roman times, when most weddings were bargained without the agreement of the bride. Nowadays, the tradition is done purely for a bit of excitement and fun.
6. China: Crying for one month
During the 17th century, a Tujia bride would be expected to cry at the wedding ceremony. Nowadays, some Tujia families in China still practice this ancient custom. Some brides start practising a month in advance and cry for one hour every day in the lead up to the wedding. Then, 10 days later, her mother and the grandmother will join in. It’s believed that the tears are to express a bride’s gratitude and love towards her family as she departs and begins a new life as a married woman. A bride’s failure to cry can be deemed to be a sign of poor breeding and she may be judged harshly by her community.
7. South Korea: Beating the grooms’ feet
In South Korea, on the day of the wedding, guests tie a groom’s feet together and beat his feet with dried fish and bamboo sticks. The custom is believed to prepare him for his wedding night. The practice is not meant to be painful or be cruel, but is done in good humour and jest. Although, the real question is – how does a foot beating result in a better wedding night performance?
There you have it, seven weird and wonderful marital customs around the world. Do you know of any other marital practices? Please mention them in the comments below.