There is one universal ritual that exists in cultures all across the globe — the wedding. However, the customs and traditions tied to this happy occasion vary greatly from culture to culture. In fact, the diversity among wedding ceremonies is so vast that you might not even recognize one from a foreign culture if you were standing right in the middle of it.
Here in the West, we’ve embraced the idea of the “white wedding” as 44% of couples choose ivory and white for their ceremony and reception color scheme. We also expect the betrothed couple to exchange vows and rings, followed by an official proclamation of marriage by an authority figure (and usually a kiss). Americans have recently adopted the wedding sparkler send off using smoke free sparklers to salute and celebrate the happy couple.
Our traditions, however, might seem totally bizarre to someone halfway across the globe. To demonstrate just how diverse wedding ceremonies can be, here are a few weird wedding rituals from around the world.
The Crying LadiesLocation: China
Thirty days before the wedding, the Tujia people of China prepare by collectively crying. The bride will spend one hour a day crying. Ten days in, her mother joins her in the hour-long crying session, and ten days later, her grandmother participates as well. The tears are not for sadness, but meant to express feelings of deep love and pure joy.
Spitting on the BrideLocation: Kenya
In the Massai nation of Kenya, the bride has her head shaved and lathered in lamb fat and oil. Her father then blesses her by spitting on her head and breasts. While spitting may be a symbol of disgrace and disrespect in most cultures, in the Massai nation it is meant to bring good luck.
Beating the Groom with a Dead FishLocation: South Korea
After the wedding ceremony, the groom’s friends remove his shoes and bind his feet with a rope. They then beat the soles of his feet with a stick or dried fish (a yellow corvina, to be exact). This, they believe, will make the groom stronger for his wedding night. While the ritual can be painful, it is considered a wildly fun tradition in South Korea.
If you’re engaged, feel free to keep these alternative wedding activities in mind while planning for the big day. If none of them sound appealing to you and you’d prefer to stick with the smoke free sparklers, go ahead purchase some high quality wedding sparklers before they’re gone!