10 Unique Wedding Customs ~ 5 – 1
Ever wonder why brides in western cultures where white? Have you ever thought about beating the grooms feet with a fish? Or have you ever wondered why some cultures smash expensive dishes at the wedding.
5: Stuffing an Apron with Cash
Polish weddings tend to be lively affairs with food and dancing. The last dance, however, is the most notable. Known as the Bridal Dance, this Polish tradition involves all the wedding guests, the bride, dancing, money and an apron.
Before the newlyweds leave the reception, a female friend or family member of the bride puts on an apron while the new Mrs. briefly dances with each of the guests. However, spins with the bride aren’t free, as each guest is expected to place money in the apron. The father of the bride is usually the first to dance and deposit cash, and the groom is the last, but his donation is more than a few spare bills — it’s his entire wallet! After the groom drops his wallet, he carries his bride off, and the reception is officially over [source: Polish American Cultural Center].
4: Smashing Dishes
In another case of wedding-related smashing and stomping, German nuptials often feature a Polterabend, which is a party where dishes and cookery are destroyed. And yes, it’s as fun as it sounds.
Polterabends typically start with extravagant feasts and finish with the entire wedding party making as much noise as humanly possible. Dishes are smashed, and pots are clashed. Whips are often brought out and cracked to hasten the departure of any nearby evil spirits.
The origin of the tradition is unknown, but it’s thought that the cacophonous sounds caused by the smashing of the cookery represent the inevitable future disturbances that the couple will face throughout their married lives. By breaking the dishes beforehand, the community is preparing the couple for the obstacles ahead and simultaneously wising them luck [source: Monger].
3: Blackening the Bride
Now onto a tradition that really stinks. No, really. The point of blackening the bride is to create the grossest concoction possible. A mixture of any combination of dairy, sausages, vegetables, eggs, fish and feathers is poured on the bride-to-be sometime before her big day. After she has been thoroughly befouled, she’s paraded through the streets of her town.
This hilarious but decidedly unclean tradition isn’t just a ladies-only affair. Grooms are also often subjected to the blackening, in which case the sticky, stinky couple is paraded around town together. Friends, family members and well-wishers follow behind the couple’s filthy procession, making as much noise as possible so that no one will miss seeing the pair [source: Sartain].
2: Beating the Groom’s Feet
Most men look forward to the conclusion of their weddings, but in South Korea, the groom has to endure a beating before he can retire with his bride. But don’t worry too much; it’s only a beating of his feet — called a bastinado or falaka — and though it can be painful, it’s over quickly and is intended to be more funny than cruel.
The foot beating takes place after the wedding ceremony and is its own ritual. The groomsmen or family members remove the groom’s shoes and socks and use a rope or sash to tie his feet together. They then lift his legs off the ground and take turns beating the soles of his feet with a stick, cane or fish.
Yes, a fish — usually a cod or a dried yellow corvina. The purpose of this tradition is to test the groom’s strength and knowledge, as he’s often asked questions and quizzed during the ordeal. Beating the soles of a man’s feet with a dead fish probably isn’t going to make him any smarter, but it’s a fun tradition that holds an important place in Korean wedding culture [source: Korea].
1: Brides Wearing White
It may seem perfectly normal, but when you think about it, Western brides’ white garb is strange. Indian brides, for example, traditionally wear red saris, while brides in Africa don a multitude of vibrant colors and designs. What’s even more shocking is that not so long ago, Western brides had more color options for their wedding wear. It wasn’t until Queen Victoria donned a white gown in 1840 for her marriage to Prince Albert that brides began losing their taste for color. Queen Victoria’s garb was extremely controversial in its day, as white was a color associated with mourning [source: Flock].
But how times change. Within a decade of the Queen’s nuptials, white was the only color brides wanted to wear [source: Flock]. Today, any other hue is taboo (at least for first-time brides), and Queen Victoria’s rebellious choice is now arguably the most recognized wedding standard in the Western world.
Although some of the wedding customs featured in this article might initially seem strange, don’t judge them too harshly. For all we know, our grandchildren will slip rings on each other’s toes after having their feet smacked with fish and call it tradition.
Photo By Swensen Photography
Thanks for checking out these unique wedding customs. If you know of any or if your wedding included or will include some unique traditions or customs we would love to hear from you.
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