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Weird and wonderful bridal traditions around the world

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A wedding ceremony holds a significant weight for everyone involved. In different countries, the happy occasion is celebrated with some weird and wonderful traditions, some of which are vastly different from the traditional British wedding.

QUIZ, a retailer of maxi dresses, has revealed some of the most intriguing bridal traditions from around the world, ranging from traditions such as plate smashing to intense crying rituals.

Image courtesy of QUIZ

1. Plate smashing and veil tearing in Germany

Germany holds a unique tradition where wedding invitations are hand-delivered by a Hochzeitslader, a man dressed in costume with ribbons and flowers. To accept the invitation to a wedding ceremony, the receiver must pin a flower from the gentleman’s costume onto his hat.

Two or three days after the wedding ceremony, a tradition called Polterabend sees a gathering of the bridegroom and his friends and family, who join together to smash plates in an effort to scare away bad spirits, an action which is also thought to reinforce the stability of their own marriage which will not shatter in the same way.

Additionally, at many wedding receptions, a veil is held above the bride and groom whilst music plays. When the music ends, single ladies tear a piece from the veil until the lady left with the biggest piece is declared next to be married... slightly different from the English tradition of throwing a bouquet!

2. Black veils and orange blossom in Spain

In Spain, the mother of the bride plays a more significant role than in Britain. Here, she is expected to accompany her daughter down the aisle. There are also no positions for bridesmaids, best man, or maid of honour.

It also common for Spanish brides to wear a special veil called a mantilla, embroidered by her mother. The dress and mantilla are made from black lace. However, the tradition has been largely lost to the modern world where white is the colour of choice for most Spanish brides.

Flowers are important in Spanish wedding ceremonies where orange blossom is popular, chosen since its white colour represents purity, a reflection on the bride.

3. Ritual crying and bow and arrows in China

China is steeped in impressive and memorable wedding traditions. Here, the symbol of the bridal bed is extremely important to both parties' families and is traditionally prepared by the groom and his family the day before. It is scattered with fruits and nuts, representational of the fertility to come in the marriage.

One bizarre tradition in China is for the bride to cry for one hour each day in the month leading up to the wedding. After one week, her mother will join her in this ritual. After two weeks, the grandmother and the sisters of the future bride will also accompany them. The custom celebrates the happiness due after the wedding takes place.

Furthermore, in contrast to English nuptial traditions where the colour red holds tradition as a colour of impurity and scandal, red is seen by Chinese people as a symbol of elation. Resultingly, it is common for the bridal dress or accessories to be coloured red. 

Another unusual tradition manifests when Chinese brides are shot three times by the groom with a bow and arrow (after the removal of arrowheads, of course). The arrows are then broken into two by the groom to symbolise that their love will last forever.

4. Henna and fire in India

Image courtesy of QUIZ

Like China, India is a large country, so traditions differ from region to region. However, there are some strong traditions which stretch throughout the whole country, some of which extend over a few days.

In India, Henna is extremely important, entitled Mehendi. The application of the henna is undertaken by friends and family, significant since it is said that the stronger the colour, the stronger the bond will be between the soon-to-be husband and wife. The names of the happy couple are interwoven through the art, symbolising their connection with each other.

The day before the ceremony, it is a tradition for the bride and groom to be smothered in a mix of turmeric, oil, and water by friends and family. This is called the Haldi ceremony and is supposed to calm and revitalise skin ready for the ceremony.

Similarly to China, bright colours are symbolic of celebration and feature in the bride’s wedding clothes. In some areas of India, the bride wears a saree. Elsewhere, she might wear a lehenga.

Fire plays a big role in the ceremony, as the bride and groom must walk around it four times and be tied together before the ceremony is recognised as complete.

In a world full of mass movement, it is becoming more and more common for couples to unite from different countries and cultures. As a result, more and more people are looking for different ways to celebrate their special day while still respecting the beliefs of their partner and families. Perhaps you may witness some of these wonderful wedding traditions at the next ceremony you attend, or maybe even at your own wedding.

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