Wedding Traditions - Blackening the Bride and the Groom, Scotland

A wedding ceremony is typically a celebration about two people who are united in marriage. All weddings have their unique traditions, and these customs differ from society to society. Most of these custom practices have deep religious and superstitious origins and sometimes be created from a particular culture. Some of these strange wedding-related cultural traditions are undertaken in hopes of bringing good luck, fertility and having an everlasting happy marriage for the couples. Some couples undergo sacrifices to avoid marriage destruction, the early death of the children or being frowned upon by the community. Here is the list of 10 really odd wedding traditions from around the world.

1. Crying Wedding, China

Crying Wedding, China

In China, the custom of crying is viewed as a necessary wedding procedure among the Tujia people from the villages of Zhangjiajie. According to the elders, every bride is required to cry during the wedding ceremony as an expression of saying goodbye to her family, expressing her love and gratitude to them and showing her reluctance to leave them. It is mandatory for the bride to cry during her wedding; otherwise, she will be looked down by her neighbors, be seen as a poorly cultivated girl and become the laughing stock of her village. In extreme case, if the bride did not cry at the wedding, she will be beaten by her mother.

The bride has to cry for a whole month before the wedding day. As every night falls, the bride has to walk inside the hall and weeps for an hour. Ten days later, her mother accompanies her and joins crying with her. Another ten days later, the grandmother will join them. A few days later, the bride’s sisters, aunts, and good friends join the cry-fest. While crying, they sing a song “Crying Marriage Song” which last for the whole night to set the wedding atmosphere pleasantly.[1][2]

2. Forced Fattening, Mauritania

Forced Fattening, Mauritania

In Mauritania, many young girls from ages 5 to 12 are being force fed to obesity to prepare them for marriage. According to the head of the Association of Women Heads of Household, “In Mauritania, a woman’s size indicates the amount of space she occupies in her husband’s heart.” Girls from rural families are being sent off to the desolate spot near Atar to go to the “fattening farms” to endure the ritual of leblouh, which is the practice of intensive force-feeding. From there, older women or the children’s aunts or grandmothers will force the girls to eat a diet of up to 16,000 calories a day. The young girls are being forced to overeat day by day to achieve the female roundness and plumpness so that she can be married as soon as possible.

In Mauritanian society, the idea of feminine beauty is a big-sized woman. Fat and heavier women are considered attractive while their slimmer counterparts are considered weak which bring shame on their families. Every day, many young girls are forced to consume huge quantities of food and bowls of goat’s or cow’s milk. If they don’t finish the fattening meals, they will receive the punishment of having their toes tied to a stick to force them to finish up their meal otherwise pressure is applied to their toes, sending shockwaves pain through their feet.[3]

3. Spitting on the Bride, Kenya

Spitting on the Bride, Kenya

Many cultures regard spitting as an act of disdain to disgrace, disrespect or humiliate. In Kenya however, the Maasai people believe that spitting can bring good luck and fortune. From the Maasai tribe, spitting is regularly noticed and is also performed in other areas of Maasai culture. The tribesmen of the Maasai have a common practice of always spitting on their hands before shaking hands with the elders as a sign of respect, and it is also customary for them to spit on newborn babies for them to avoid receiving any bad luck.

During a Maasai wedding ceremony, the bride’s head is shaved before a lamb fat and oil robbed onto her head and skin. The father of the bride spits on his daughter’s face, head, and breasts as a form of blessing and to also bring good luck to her married life. After her father spit on her face, head, and chest, she and her husband will walk away to their new home without turning and looking back in fear that she might turn into a stone. This experience is terrifying for brides who are at a young age of 13 to 16.[4]

4. Delicious Toilet Bowl Soup, France

Delicious Toilet Bowl Soup, France

During a traditional French wedding ceremony, the newlywed couples will have to go through a wedding tradition called La Soup. After a wedding ceremony and reception, the bride and groom are sent to their marriage bed while all of the wedding guests will stay behind and gather all of the leftover meals and drinks and trash lying around before dumping all of them into a toilet bowl to form a soup. They then serve the disgusting toilet soup to the couple’s room and will not leave until the bride and groom finish drinking all of it. The reason for this is to give the couple the fuel they need for their long wedding night.

Nowadays, instead of the garbage soup, it is being substituted with a concoction of chocolate and champagne to make it more appealing and special. But it is still being served from out of the traditional chamber pot. During that event, hygiene and sanitation weren’t the norms and the tradition continues to exist. Of course, not all newlywed couples follow this tradition anymore due to health concerns and the unappealing thought of soup coming out of a toilet bowl.[5]

5. Beating the Feet of the Groom, South Korea

Beating the Feet of the Groom, South Korea

According to the wedding tradition of South Korea, for the groom to be ready for his first wedding night, he has to endure a beating on his feet before he is allowed to leave with his bride. After the wedding ceremony, the friends and family members of the groom will take off his shoes and socks, tie a rope around his ankles, and will start taking turns beating the sole his feet with a wooden stick or cane, or a dried yellow Corvina fish. The groom can either lay on the floor or table before his ankles are being held up by either the members of his family or the groomsmen to keep him steady. Though the ritual looks painful, it does not take too long and is meant to be for the amusement and laughter as a method of testing the groom’s potential physical performance and character and believing it is capable of make him stronger for his marriage and family life. Amongst the South Koreans, this tradition is known as Falaka.[6]

6. Blackening the Bride and the Groom, Scotland

Wedding Traditions - Blackening the Bride and the Groom, Scotland

In the days or weeks before the coming of the wedding ceremony, there is an obscure tradition. It involves the bride and the groom being ‘captured’ by their friends and family members and endure having nasty things like spoiled food, curdled milk, mud, garbage, and every available disgusting substance being thrown at them while either tied to a chair or a tree. After being covered in filth from head to toe, they are then being paraded publicly for the whole streets to see with the well-wishers creating as much celebratory noise as they can.

It is believed that if the couples can withstand this horrid ritual, then they can overcome anything in their marriage. To many, it can appear sickening, but to the Scottish culture, it holds a profound significance, and it has become increasingly popular in Glasgow and the west of Scotland, not just on the island and farming communities. Many Scottish people keep this blackening tradition alive because they thought it was a lot of fun. Depending on the region, it can either be the bride or the groom alone who will be the victim of this humiliation of a trial.[7]

7. Marrying a Tree, India

Marrying a Tree, India

In India, women who are born as Manglik are considered cursed and are not allowed to get married unless they break this. To ward off this curse, they must perform a ritual of marrying to a tree before cutting it down. Once the peepal tree is destroyed and the curse is broken, then she can get married to a human. If this is not done, it is believed that the evil of the Manglik factor can result in the early death of either the bride or the groom after marriage.

According to Hindu mythology and astrology, Manglik Dosha occurs when the planet Mars and Saturn are both under the 7th house of the rising chart. A child who is born on this date is Manglik by birth. People assumed that condition of Manglik Dosha has ill effects because of the ferocious character of the planet Mars which is identified as the Roman god of war. People believe that the condition is quite sinister which would result in discomfort and dissonance between the couples in their marriage life. To avoid the destruction of marriage, the Manglik must perform a rite called Kumbh Vivah, which is to marry a tree.[8]

8. The Bride Kidnapping, Kyrgyzstan

The Bride Kidnapping, Kyrgyzstan

Bridal kidnapping is a common practice in Kyrgyzstan. In this custom, a man gets to choose his bride-to-be and abducts her with the help of his friends. The unsuspecting women are carried forcibly into the car and taken directly to the man’s house where immediately the family will start making preparations for the wedding ceremony. Many women who are being captured to be forced into marriage are usually very young and are pressured by the would-be groom’s female elders to accept the marriage by physically restraining her and trying to place a white headscarf of her head. The white scarf is a symbolize that the bride agrees to be married. Many women kidnapped end up agreeing to the wedding, since once they have entered their kidnapper’s home, they are considered to be no longer pure, making it shameful for them to return to their home. To avoid the disgrace, they remain with their kidnappers.[9]

9. Bathroom Ban, Borneo

In Borneo, the Indonesian Tidong community believes that for the newlywed couples to have an everlasting happy marriage, they should abide the ritual of not using the bathroom for three days and three nights after the wedding ceremony. Not following this ritual will result in bad luck to the couple: infidelity, breakup, and the death of their children at a young age. During this challenging tradition, the couples are forbidden to leave their house so that they can be guarded carefully by their friends and members of the family. They are allowed only to have small amounts of food and drink to go through with this challenge and not to experience any difficulty. The Tidong people believe that during the three days and three nights challenge will help strengthen the bond between the couples because of their strong commitment and dedication to make their marriage as perfect as possible. After the three days are over, the newlyweds are allowed to use the bathroom and can resume a normal life.[10]

10. A “Helper” Under the Bed, Some Parts of Africa

A “Helper” Under the Bed, Africa

In the culture of Swahili, having arranged marriage is prevalent practice and the norm. The families are the ones who will select the appropriate groom based on his nobility, financial status, and clan. Customarily, the bride and the groom cannot see each other until the night of their marriage. To learn how to become a good wife, the bride will be given a “marriage mentor,” or Somo, who could be an older female relative. The helper will hide under the marital bed while the bride and the groom consummate their marriage. This is to confirm that the consummation has taken place. The marriage mentor will assist the groom if he is having a hard time deflowering his bride. After being the witness, she will then take a piece of the bed lines with the virgin blood to show it to the other women. The newlyweds can be finally left alone and remain isolated together for seven days.[11]

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