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.
- Crying Ritual of the Tujia People – Sichaun Province, China
Staring 30 days before the wedding, the bride spends an hour a day crying. Ten days later, she is joined by her mother, and then ten days after that, her grandmother. I know what you’re thinking, but this is actually meant as an expression of joy and deep love.
- Daur Chick Liver Tradition – Inner Mongolia, China
Time to get mystical. To select a wedding date, the young couple must take a knife, and together slaughter a chick. The date is then divined by the appearance of the chick’s liver. If the liver has an unfortunate appearance, they must keep killing chicks until they find a good one.
- Kumbh Vivah– India
Indian men and women born as Mangliks, meaning if 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 Mangalik 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.
- Bathroom Moratorium – Tidong community, Indonesia/Malaysia
After the wedding, the bride and groom are not allowed to use the bathroom for three whole days. They cannot leave the house, clear their bowels or urinate. The couple is watched over, and are allowed minimal amounts of food and drink. If the custom is not practiced, they believe it will bring bad luck to the couple, with consequences such as a broken marriage, infidelity or death of their children. After three days, the couple is allowed to return to normal life, and begin their marriage.
- The Kissing Tradition – Sweden
If the groom leaves the room for any reason, all the other men at the wedding are allowed to kiss the bride. The same goes for the groom and female guests if the bride should leave the room.
- La Soupe– France
After the reception, the couple would be sent to their bed while the bridal party cleaned up the mess. This was done by dumping all the leftover food, drink and trash into a chamber pot. They would then barge into the couple’s room with a toilet full of garbage and would not leave until the couple drank it. Today, the soup is more commonly made up of chocolate and champagne, but it’s still served out of a toilet. The reasoning behind the tradition was to give the couple fuel to have sex. (Okay, a French wedding is officially out for me).
- Shooting the Bride – China
The Yugur people (an ethnic minority group in China) have a custom of the groom shooting three arrows (that don’t have arrowheads) at his bride. He then breaks the arrows and the bow during the wedding ceremony, symbolizing that they will love and live with each other forever.
- No Smiling – Congo
Weddings are considered a thoughtful affair in this part of Africa, and for everything to be taken seriously, the couple cannot smile during or after the ceremony. Nor are they allowed to smile in any wedding day photos.
- Falaka, or Beating of the Groom’s Feet – South Korea
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.
- Polterabend – Germany
Guests arrive the night before the wedding, usually at the home of the bride, and break any porcelain object they can get their hands on. This act is thought to bring good luck to the couple. However, they cannot break glass, as it symbolizes happiness. After the porcelain has been broken the couple cleans it up, which is supposed to teach them that married life will not be easy, but by working together, they can overcome any challenge. Today, the new generation breaks the porcelain on the wedding day rather than the night before.