Wedding Traditions Around the World
By Alexander Stavrou
From Europe to the Middle East, and stretching as far as Asia, the world is full of many different cultures that offer a vast diversity of wedding celebrations. Each culture has its own unique way of expressing a marriage ceremony, while being individually linked to their own history and traditions. These are how a few cultural wedding ceremonies look like, and how they’re traditionally celebrated.
Traditional Indian wedding attire is made up of bright bold colors, accompanied by the old-style sari garment. Guests are encouraged to wear these exotic colors as it helps catch the eye; along with any striking jewelry. The one big difference between an Indian wedding and a Western wedding is that an Indian wedding lasts a total of three whole days. Westerners may also be stunned to know that the groom will arrive in a decorated white horse escorted by his family. Subsequently, the ceremony is choreographed by the priest, and the groom, the bride, and the bride’s family sit beneath the mandap (covered structure with pillars). The couples then hold hands and circle the Agni (small fire). In the end, the groom will apply a red powder to the bride’s forehead, along with a black necklace around her head which symbolizes her marriage. Later the reception begins, which is an exciting party! Indian receptions are charmed with music from the Punjab province and usually, serve traditional Indian food.
Jewish ceremonies are held under the Chuppah which basically serves the same purpose as the Indian mandap. The apparel will be mostly dominated by Western clothing, a standard tuxedo for the men and a dress for the women. Yet Jewish tradition can differ greatly from what you would expect to see at a Christian ceremony. Some Jewish couples prefer to fast until they have their first meal together. Likewise, grooms will approach the bride before the ceremony, glance at her, and veil her face. This custom validates the grooms appreciation for the brides inner beauty. Jewish tradition also requires the signing of the Ketubah, which details the groom’s responsibility towards his future wife. Vows are then told underneath the Chuppah, and right after the bride circles the groom three times. Finally, you have the breaking of the glass, and later the guests cry the grand saying, Mazol Tov!
Greek wedding ceremonies are centered around the traditions of the Greek Orthodox faith. To begin with, the priest will bless the rings of the bride and groom by placing them on their fingers. During the ceremony, the couple will hold a pair of candles, which symbolize the light of Christ. The couple will also share a common cup of wine that signifies how their marriage will progress in the forthcoming. Then the priest will share the readings of The Epistle of St. Paul and will unify the couple with the holy wedding crowns. After that get ready to dance the night away, Greeks take their reception very seriously, and you will most likely be enthralled by their dancing and drinking capabilities.
Today, a traditional Japanese wedding will embody the Shinto religion, the dominant religion of Japan. Shinto provides a connection for modern Japanese culture to its ancient past. In a Japanese wedding ceremony, the bride wears the famous Kimono dress, and during the reception can be seen wearing an Uchikake over the Kimono, which is an illustrious piece of clothing embellished with flowers. Japanese ceremonies are performed by priests and are typically help privately, mostly by close family members.
In Germany, there are a few eye-opening differences that separate it’s wedding ceremonies from their western counterparts. For example, on the eve of a couple’s wedding, the polterabend takes place; which is a huge party thrown by friends that involves the smashing of pottery all over the streets. The Germans do this as non-formal occasion, the bride and groom will then clean up the mess together; symbolizing their future life of cooperation with one another. Yet, one of the most renowned events to take part in a German wedding is the sawing of a tree trunk or, Baumstamm sagen. The couple will work together to saw the tree, like the cleanup of the polterabend, this is to showcase the couple’s comradeship, and ability to work together.
These are just how a handful of cultures celebrate their wedding ceremonies. If you’re from the United States traveling abroad to experience one of these traditional weddings can seem daunting. But the good news is that you don’t have to travel the world to experience one of these majestic weddings. Most cultures attempt to incorporate their traditions wherever they migrate to. So as long as you have a few friends within these cultural backgrounds, you may be invited to attend their traditional ceremony.