Before anyone can get married, ransom must be paid. In a traditional token gesture, the groom comes to the brides house and gives something to her family for her hand in marriage. The family then bring out someone for the groom who is not the bride. The groom again should ask for his beloved and the family "demands" a bigger ransom to symbolically represent how valuable she is to her family. Satisfied that the groom knows her true worth, the family gives the bride away to her future husband. Obviously, Vodka is invited +1.
We're thankful that Scotland’s traditional Blackening of the Bride/Groom ritual doesn't involve literally blackening anybody. We're also thankful that it's not an American tradition because it sounds awful! This ritual involves the couples "friends" pelting them with trash. The oozier the better, apparently. Historically, it was done to ward evil spirits away from the union. Today, presumably, people just want the chance to laugh while they douse people in refuse. Schadenfreude, anyone?
In China, the whole thing is an ordeal. First, since marriage is about the joining of two families, the parents have a formal meeting and set an auspicious date for the wedding. Some couples even dissect a chicken to pick a date, because why not, right? We've always found chicken liver to be very informative. Second, cakes are sent to friends and family by the grooms family as part of their proposal gift. The brides family then assembles her dowry, which usually consists of all the things that the couple needs for their new home- sometimes it is the home! On the actual wedding date so many rituals take place that we don't have enough space to list them. There's a lot of kneeling, and tea, and red envelopes full of money and such. The wedding night is considered the formal vow between husband and wife. The two drink wine from cups tethered by a red string and then she is presented with half-raw dumplings because in Chinese the pronunciation of "raw" is also the same as giving birth to children. The next morning, the bride is expected to, we kid you not, get up early make breakfast for her in-laws because surely she isn't exhausted from the above paragraph...
Chances are good that you've heard that a bride and groom shouldn't see each other on their special day before the wedding. But why? These kinds of things don't pop up out of thin air with the entire culture agreeing to do a silly and inconvenient thing. This one turns out to be quite pragmatic, if you happened to live during the times when most marriage were business transactions arranged by the families. This was to spare everyone the embarrassment should the groom not like what he saw and tried to back out of the union.
- written by JLK
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