In case you hadn’t heard, there have been a few major celebrity weddings this year, including George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin, and, infamously, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian (in a ceremony that launched a thousand Instagram posts). While Kimye may have bucked most traditional wedding traditions in favor of a more contemporary ceremony, they did retain a few, including a healthy floral arrangement. Keeping wedding traditions in mind, here are seven strange traditions that you’ll find in various cultures!
The Blackening of the Bride in Scotland
How much do you love bacon grease? Feathers? Soot? Imagine all of these mixed together with a healthy portion of water and mischief, then dumped over your entire body the day before your wedding. Sound fun? Now, imagine getting tied to a tree while covered in the grime, of course after a healthy portion of alcohol. Welcome to one of Scotland’s wedding traditions! While this originally began as a way to ward evil sprits and has fallen from practice, there are still several Scottish villages that relish this marriage ritual.
Known for decadence, the French certainly know how to celebrate wedding ceremonies. But after all the beauty of the ceremony has concluded, the French get a bit contrarian. Why not balance stately grandeur with a bit of lowbrow humor? And so, the French previously collected all of the trash and leftovers, put it into a large toilet bowl, and have the bride and groom drink from the collected refuse. Although this tradition has changed to replace the debris with chocolate or soup, the origin story is certainly worth considering.
Taking a Firm Stance in Ireland
You’ve seen wedding pictures of the groom lifting his bride high into the air in an endearing embrace, illustrating reciprocated support and strength (see above). Well, you may not have if you’re from Ireland. According to Irish tradition, the bride is supposed to keep her feet on the floor, especially while dancing. Why? Because if she lifts her feet for even a moment, evil fairies will come sweep her away! Obviously, this should be avoided, and clearly the fairies only attack when the bride is airborn.
While Chinese culture may have traditions that seem a bit strange to most North Americans, the Yugur culture (an ethnic minority of China) offers a puzzling marriage tradition. Before the wedding day, the groom is required to shoot his bride with a bow and arrow three times. Of course, this practice wouldn’t prove fruitful for future populations, but the arrowheads are typically made of soft, padded materials. Afterward, the two collect the arrows and break them over their knee. Signifying that their love cannot be broken? Puzzling indeed.
Everyone loves a celebration, and of course everyone loves an after-party as well. Especially a noisy afterparty. In France, on the night of the wedding, after the reception has concluded, the family of the bride and the groom gather together outside the home of the newlyweds. And then proceed to bang on pots, pans, drums, sticks, rods, and any other type of noise-producing item while screaming as loud as they can. And even more disrupting, in order to disperse the crowd, the newlyweds have to greet them with food and drink! How romantic.
Of course, a wedding reception customarily includes several dances with the bride. But what about a dance with a stranger? How about, say, nine? In Ireland’s counties of Leitrim and Mayo, nine young men are designated “straw boys,” a group that crashes most weddings and dances with the bride before swiftly vanishing, leaving only confusion and laughter in their wake.
Why Wear White?
And finally, we should shine a light on our own “strange” culture. The white wedding dress is ubiquitous in North American culture, although less present in most other cultures, where brides dress in vibrant colors as a celebration of their marriage. The tradition of wearing a white dress is said to have originated when Queen Victoria donned a white dress for her marriage to Prince Albert in 1840. The choice was considered “unusual,” as colors where more typical of the time. While previous members of the royal family had been married in white, Victoria’s dress in particular is well documented, and her legacy can add this as another note. It’s certainly elegant too!