The one thing every human society has in common is marriage. It doesn’t matter how isolated or backwards it is, if you stick around long enough then you’ll find yourself at something at least resembling a wedding. The rituals and traditions vary greatly between cultures, religions, countries and social classes. In many cultures, preparing for a wedding involves booking a venue, getting the wedding dress and inviting the guests. The following unusual and amazing wedding rituals will make you understand just how diverse weddings can be. Here are top 10 bizarre wedding rituals from around the world that go beyond the white dress and veil.
1. Log cutting, Germany
Baumstamm Sägen is a German wedding tradition where the log represents the first obstacle the newlyweds must overcome, in a lifetime of inevitable future obstacles. With a two-handle long saw, they work as a team (cheered on by their guests) until that log is successfully cut in two. I love it! You can’t get much more literal about what it means to be partners than that. Traditionally, sawing the log takes place just after the ceremony, as the couple leave the church.
2. Nuer tribe – 2 kids, Sudan
In the Nuer tribe, marital unions are recognized through the exchange of bridewealth, in the form of cattle. However, in Nuer eyes, a marriage has not been finalized until the bride has given birth to at least two children. Only after the continuity of the husband’s lineage has been assured, and, following the birth of two or three children, the woman is recognized as a wife. If the wife has only one child, the husband has the right to ask for a divorce. In a case where the husband dies, his brother must become the new widow’s husband.
3. Crying ritual of the Tujia People, China
The Tujia people of China prepare for a wedding 30 days before the wedding day by crying. The bride spends approximately an hour a day by herself crying for 10 days straight. On the 10th day, she is joined by by her mother, and then ten days after that, her grandmother, and this continues until all the females in the family are crying daily for an hour. The ritual is not considered as an act of sadness but rather an expression of joy and deep love.
4. Ransoming the bride, Romania
It’s one of Romania’s more colorful customs: bride-napping. The tradition of snatching the bride from under the nose of groom and guests with the wedding party in full swing is getting bigger, brasher and an increasingly common sight in the Romanian capital. The ritual usually takes place before the wedding ceremony where the bride is “kidnapped” by family, friends, or hired actors, and the groom must rescue her by paying a ransom with money, drinks, or romantic gestures.
5. Breaking of the glass, Jewish tradition
Breaking of the glass occurs at the end of the ceremony. The bride and groom is invited to step on a glass inside a cloth bag to shatter it. The ritual holds multiple meanings. While some say it represents the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, others say it demonstrates that marriage holds sorrow as well as joy and is a representation of the commitment to stand by one another even in hard times. The cloth holding the shards of glass is collected after the ceremony and many couples choose to have it incorporated into some sort of memento of their wedding day.
6. Bridal henna designs, India
Indian weddings, also called ‘Vivaah’, are best known for the grandeur, traditions, grace, colors and almost carnival-type celebration associated with this sacred event. The Mehndi event is a colorful and fun celebration held the night before the wedding, which is traditionally celebrated by the women on the bride’s side of the family. Generally, a professional mehndi artist or relative will apply henna in intricate designs to the hands and feet of the bride and other women in the family.
7. Bread and salt ceremony, Russia
Nothing is more loved by Russians than feasts with lots of meals, drinks and entertainment. A Russian wedding is a perfect opportunity to gather friends and family and enjoy plenty of food and merriment. During the ritual, the parents of the bride and groom greet the couple with bread with salt. After that, the bride and groom break off a piece of bread, put salt on it and feed each other. Whoever manages to break off the biggest piece of bread is superstitiously considered as the head of the house.
8. Spitting on the Bride, Massai Nation, Kenya
One of the most bizarre wedding rituals of Maasai nation of Kenya. At a wedding ceremony held by the Maasai people, the bride’s head is shaved and lamb fat and oil is applied on her head. The father of the bride blesses his daughter by spitting on her head and breasts. Spitting is a symbol of disgrace usually but in Maasai nation it is thought to bring good luck and fortune. She then leaves with her husband and does not look back for fear of turning into stone. The husband doesn’t stay in the house in which she stays for the next two days and then her mother in law shaves her head once again. This commences the wedding ceremony declaring them man and wife for life.
9. The blackening of the bride, Scotland
The bride and groom are slathered from head to toe in every disgusting substance their friends can get their hands on. Curdled milk, rotten eggs, spoiled curry, fish sauces, mud, flour, sausages, every nasty thing you can imagine. As if that weren’t enough, the couple is then paraded about, with well-wishers making as much noise as possible. Depending on the region, sometimes it’s just the bride or groom alone who is the victim of this particular pre-wedding tradition.
10. Kumbh Vivah, India
Indian men and women born as Mangliks — meaning Mars is situated in the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 7th, 8th or 12th house of a person’s Rashi (Indian astrological moon sign) — are believed to be cursed. It is believed that Mangalik Dosha negatively impacts married life, causing tension and sometimes the untimely death of one of the partners. To cancel these effects, a Kumbh Vivah can be performed before the wedding. This is a wedding between a Manglik and either a statue of Vishnu or a Peepal tree or banana tree. The celebrated Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai had one such marriage with a tree before marrying her husband, Abhishek.
11. Beating of the groom’s feet, South Korea
The ritual of “beating the groom’s feet” takes place after the wedding ceremony in South Korea. The Groom’s friends remove his shoes and tie his feet together with a rope or sash. After the wedding, before he can leave with his bride, the groom must endure a beating of his feet. It can be painful, but it’s over quickly and is intended to be more funny than harsh. The groom has his shoes and socks removed and his ankles bound by his groomsmen or family members. They then take turns beating the soles of his feet with a stick, cane or dried fish (yes, a fish). The reason for beating a groom on his wedding day is to test his knowledge, since he is usually quizzed during the beating.
12. Bathroom ban, Indonesia
Weddings in the Indonesian Tidong community have traditions that are truly unique. But the weirdest of them all is this – the bride and the groom aren’t allowed to use the bathroom for three days after the wedding. The custom is very normal and natural for the people of the Tidong tribe. They believe that not practicing the three-day and night ritual would bring terrible luck to the couple – a broken marriage, infidelity, or death of their children at a young age. The couple is watched over by several people and allowed only minimal amounts of food and drink.