10 Strange Wedding Traditions in Society
For most cultures, marriage is one of the purest and most celebrated rituals in one’s life. A utopian-like atmosphere is created with the congregation of relatives and close friends, amazing food, and a day full of affectionate and entertaining formalities. Some cultures take their traditions extremely seriously and have been practicing them for decades, or even centuries. Different societies around the world are celebrating their big days in diverse manners, and some groups reach extreme lengths to yield good luck and fortune to newlyweds.
10Blackening of the Bride
In this traditional Scottish marriage ritual, “the blackening” occurs the day before the wedding and involves family, friends, and well-wishers of the soon-to-be newlyweds. The routine is slightly adjusted depending on where the festivities are taken place, but the bride or groom, and sometimes both of them, are apprehended by their friends and family and covered in soot, treacle, flour, feathers, and sometimes other ingredients such as sauces, spoiled milk, or fish. They are then paraded around their town on the back of a pickup truck for their neighbors to wish them luck on their wedding day and beyond. Although the Blackening is considered a fun and enjoyable occasion, alcohol is typically involved to render the victim(s) incapable of resisting. The end of the night is usually capped-off with a pub crawl or further celebration.
The Blackening is a ritual that has various symbolic meanings behind it. The religious meaning represents warding off evil spirits that could potentially harm the newlyweds’ marriage. Others believe this ceremony typifies the struggles of matrimony.
9The Tidong Tribe
There is an Indonesian community in Northern Borneo called the Tidong tribe that practices unique traditions starting once couples get engaged through the honeymoon stage. The most insane commences at the conclusion of the wedding ceremony, and strictly calls for the newlyweds to avoid using the bathroom for any reason; including urinating, defecating, and using the bath or shower.
For three days and three nights, relatives and friends help entertain and keep a close eye on the new couple, making sure they abide by the rules of the custom. Small portions of food and beverages are served to reduce temptations, and the partners have to remain confined in their house until the tradition has been carried out.
The Tidong people believe this process brings good luck to their marriage and will help bring the couple a lot of healthy children and a long, happy life together. At the end of this grueling period, the couple is bathed and proceeds to live a normal life as honeymooners.
8Kidnapping the Bride
Various cultures in Europe, Central and Southeast Asia, Mexico, and some areas in Africa have taken part in marriage by abductions for centuries. For some cultures, the tradition has evolved over the years to become more fun and friendly, where the bride and groom would collaborate and have a consensual kidnapping, but there are still cases of coercion. For the societies that believe this to be a form of marriage, when a man determines he wants to spend the rest of his life with a particular woman, he abducts her and forces her to marry him.
There have been a handful of protests against this longstanding practice over the years, but to minimal avail. Amendments have been to international laws in an effort to reduce the overall number of abduction marriages, but that hasn’t stopped some cultures from continuing this custom. Thousands of women are captured and forcibly married every year, but the vast majority of those cases never reach the ineffective justice system. Awareness has raised in recent years due to non-consensual brides committing suicide and the younger generation expressing a disinterest in the education system stemming from fear of males potentially harming their well-being.
The motivations behind this tradition vary by region, but the typical background for the involuntary marriages includes strong ties to patriarchy with a strong social stigma on sex or pregnancy outside marriage. Another motive for young males to kidnap his future wife comes from the angst of rejection or the feeling that his love interest is positioned higher on the economic ladder.
7Marrying Animals in India
Superstitions are in abundance throughout the Western culture, especially during weddings. The Santhal tribe in India believes that if a young girl within their association is born with her tooth already protruding through her gums, she is cursed and will be attacked or eaten by a tiger in the future. To fend off bad omens, the girl has to break the curse by marrying a goat or dog in a mock wedding. The ceremony is illegitimate and no formal documentation is actually consummated, allowing the unlucky girl to marry a man later on in her life.
6Mauritanian Fat Farms
Mauritania is a country in western North Africa and positioned in the center of the Sahara Desert. Because of the unfortunate position, food shortages are miserably mundane. Fat women are determined to be more desirable in this small, underprivileged country because it typically signifies wealth and prestige. In a custom referred to as leblouh, young girls between the ages of five and nine are force-fed by their families in an effort to become more alluring in the eyes of men as they grow older and prepare for marriage at a juvenile age.
During school holidays or in Mauritania’s rainy season, the adolescent females are taken to “fattening farm.” Older women, sometimes within the girls’ families, distribute meals that consist of camel milk, pounded millet, and water. Every day at the farm can incorporate up to 20 litres of camel milk and two kilos of pounded millet mixed with two cups of butter. The older women also roll sticks on the girls’ thighs to help accelerate the process. For girls that have busy schedules and aren’t able to commute to the fat farms, they are supplied with steroid-like pills that make them gain weight. These pills often lead to heart failure and recurring heart attacks.
Campaigners have been active in Mauritania in hopes to educate the women in the area and impede the leblough custom, and even though progress has been made, many females in the rural regions of the country don’t have access to the information and continue to participate in this insane tradition.
5Daur Chick Liver
The Daur people live inhabit the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and Heilongjiang Province. Various animals have significant symbolic representations in the Chinese culture, including many traditions that are demonstrated during the engagement and marital parts of their lives. The most notorious custom has the soon-to-be newlyweds gathered in the man’s home, where the couple is joined by relatives and close friends.
The man and woman handle a single knife together and dissect a baby chick. The wedding date can then be set if the chick’s liver is in healthy condition, meaning the organ is either tan or dark red in color and free of any white or yellow spots that suggest disease is present. If spots or lumps are existent, a new chick is selected and the process is repeated until a healthy liver is found. At the conclusion of the event, all the guests accompany the engaged couple for a night of celebration that consists of drinking, singing, and dancing.
4Korean Feet Beating
In South Korea, the groom is approached by his friends at the conclusion of the wedding ceremony, stripped of his shoes and socks, and has the soles of his feet beaten by dried fish, particularly yellow corvine, as his ankles are tied together. More modern rituals call for a cane or stick to relieve the groom of foul-smelling feet for the remainder of his wedding night and honeymoon.
The Korean culture believes this tradition tests the man’s true strength and character, as the manner in which he reacts to the beating is telling of his overall demeanor. The episode only lasts a short amount of time, usually lasting just under a minute, and is typically more fun than torturous. Once the groom’s friends decide he is “manly” enough for his first night of marriage, he is untied and deemed prepared for matrimony.
3Spartan Brides Dressing as Men
In ancient Sparta, women were so disregarded as human beings, they were forced to shave their heads, wear sandals, and wear men’s clothing on their wedding day. Because most men were avid practitioners in homosexuality, the Spartans believed the groom should be “eased into heterosexuality,” and have the bride embody a male figure in preparation of their honeymoon. Others believe this unique ritual represents the girl transitioning into womanhood. Married Spartan women were forbidden from wearing long hair.
Unlike traditional wedding ceremonies, once the bride was fully masculinized, she was placed in a dark room, where she waited for her new groom to “capture” and return her to her parents’ house, where their marriage was consummated. Because Spartan men were sanctioned to live in the military barracks until they were 30, they were unable to spend much time with their families. Given the circumstances, it was typical that newlyweds only saw each other during the night for awhile after their marriage, at least until the man was done serving in his state’s military.
2Le Pot de Chambre
France is stereotyped to be a genuinely elegant country that houses some of the most beautiful structures and artwork in the world. With that said, the French also have one of the most disgusting wedding traditions out there. At the conclusion of their wedding ceremony, the bridal party fills a previously purchased toilet bowl with leftovers from the reception and other sufficiently distasteful items.
The concoction is then taken to the newlyweds, who then have to finish it before they start celebrating their honeymoon. The bridal party usually stays with the couple and doesn’t leave them alone until the unpleasant stew is finished. More modern traditions evolved into the toilet bowl being packed to the brim with chocolate, but is still believed to supply the bride and groom with sufficient energy for the night ahead. Times have changed from when the tradition originated, as couples drank the garbage soup from used chamber pots.
1Spitting on the Bride
There are multiple cultures that believe spitting acts as a good luck charm. For the people of Maasai, a small tribe located near the African Great Lakes in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, spitting is a long-standing tradition related to several platforms. Not only is it demonstrated during matrimony in hopes of good luck and fortune, but spitting is common when greeting others to show respect and even on newborns to repel evil spirits and curses throughout its life.
Before the bride leaves with her new husband at the end of the wedding ceremony, her father spits on her forehead and chest for religious purposes. Once the bride has been blessed, she leaves with her new husband and is forbidden from looking back at her father, lest she turn to stone.