- Introduce some international whimsy to your wedding with one of these weird customs.
Wherever you are in the world, two people joining together in marriage is an occasion for joy. And that’s where the similarities sometimes end.
Different places have different traditions, and that also goes for weddings. For some people, walking down the aisle might seem like an awfully dull ceremony.
Here are eight unusual wedding traditions from countries all over the world.
1) Congo – No Smiling at a Wedding
We just said that weddings are happy events, but you might not think that from seeing a Congolese wedding. That’s because the bride and the groom aren’t allowed to smile. At all.
The couple has to keep a stoic, stern face throughout the entire ceremony. Nor can they crack a smile for photos, or during the after-party, even if the rest of the crowd is going completely nuts.
It’s not that they aren’t happy – weddings are just an extremely serious business in Congo. By not smiling, the bride and groom show that they aren’t treating their lifelong commitment as a joke.
2) South Korea – Beating the Groom’s Feet
Love can hurt sometimes, but the South Koreans make sure it does so right from the wedding say. It’s a tradition in the country to give the soles of the groom’s feet a good beating before he’s allowed to leave with his new wife.
The groom’s friends remove his shoes and socks, tie his ankles, and proceed to beat the crap out of his feet. The beating implement is usually a stick, but it could also be a dried fish.
The friends also often question the groom about his bride and his plans for marriage. The point of the tradition is to get a measure of the groom’s determination and personal strength.
If he can put up with the beating, he can put up with the marriage. Not sure about the message here is, but hey, whatever works.
3) Germany – Breaking the Bride’s Dishes
In Germany, there’s a tradition called Polterabend. It translates to “bachelor party,” but this isn’t like any party we’ve ever heard of.
On the eve of the wedding, the couple’s friends will gather at the bride’s place. They then proceed to smash breakable dishes and crockery on the floor.
After the act, the couple gets to clean it all up together. This way, they show that they can work together to overcome any challenges they might face in their marriage.
It’s a nice sentiment, but… Plates can be pretty expensive. Who’s paying for this?
4) France – Banging All Night
After the wedding, the newlyweds in some parts of France will retreat to their new home. There will then be banging that lasts all night.
Nobody’s consummating their marriage, though. Instead, the couple’s family and friends gather at the house and start banging pots and pans.
The couple is then supposed to respond by showing up in their wedding attire and serve snacks and drinks to the crowd. We’re really not sure what the point is, but that’s the French wedding tradition of Charivari for you.
5) Mauritania – Fattening the Bride
In the West, brides usually try to lose a few pounds before the wedding to fit into the most fashionable dress. Not so in Mauritania – in fact, it’s the complete opposite.
A chubby bride is traditionally seen as a sign of wealth and fortune, and apparently according to some testimonies, Mauritanian men just like their brides thick. As such, it’s not weird to see a bride trying to intentionally gain weight before the big day.
There’s a darker side to this, though. Some brides-to-be are sent to a Bizarro World fat camp, where they’re force fed enormous amount of food – and sometimes even growth hormones – to fatten them up.
In recent years, younger brides and grooms have started to combat the fat camp tradition. Still, according to a 2001 study, roughly 65% of both women and men approved of it.
6) Greece – Groomsmen Groom the Groom
The groomsmen usually help take care of the practical aspects of the wedding on behalf of the groom. But in Greece, their role can become far more literal.
On the wedding day, a Greek best man and the rest of the groom’s wedding entourage show up at his home. They then proceed to give the groom a thorough, clean shave.
The tradition signifies trust between the groom and his friends. Women also have a similar tradition where the bridesmaids help the bride get dressed and do her makeup.
The best man’s better have a steady hand, though. It might not be so good for the groom to show up with his face covered in pieces of toilet paper.
7) China – The Weeping of the Women
The Congolese aren’t allowed to smile at the wedding, but the Tujia people of China take things a couple steps further. For an entire month before the wedding, the bride is supposed to spend one hour every day in tears.
After 10 days, the future mother-in-law will join her daughter in her daily waterworks. Another 10 days along the line, the bride’s grandmother will be crying with them as well.
But the trio isn’t miserable. In fact, because the women cry in different tones, the tradition is supposed to be an expression of joy since their weeping resembles a song.
According to folk stories, the tradition dates back nearly 2,000 years. The story goes that the mother of a princess broke down at her daughter’s wedding and cried for a month straight.
8) Kenya – Father-in-Law Spits on the Bride
In most places of the world, the bride’s father spitting on her during the wedding would surely ruin the day. But among the Maasai people of Kenya, it’s expected.
Before the bride leaves with her new husband, the fresh father-in-law will spit on her head and her chest. There’s absolutely no disrespect intended, though, because the Maasai believe that spitting on something brings good luck.
The tradition isn’t restricted just to weddings, either. Maasai men will spit on their hands before shaking hands with an elder to show respect.
Newborn babies will also get spat on as a good luck charm. There’s just something special about that Maasai mucus.