Baltic Wedding Traditions:
Central American Wedding:
The central theme of all Central American wedding traditions is family. Family is at the center of Central American life and family is at the center of all Central American wedding traditions.
The more the merrier at a Central American wedding.
Weddings in Central America tend to be large, boisterous, happy affairs, filled with friends and family—children are always welcomed with open arms at a Central American wedding.
In the beautiful country of Belize, on the Eastern side of Central America, weddings are a very joyous occasion. Fiends and family fill the church while the rest of the villagers peer in through the doors and windows, anxious not to miss a moment. While the groom and his best man stand at the alter, the bride waits outside the church until the moment of her grand entrance.
Unlike a more sedate North American wedding, the bride may waltz or strut or dance to the alter, accompanied by her father or another male member of the family. As is true almost the world over, at the conclusion of a Belize wedding ceremony (almost always Catholic) the bride and groom exchange rings, the universal symbol of never-ending love, and then kiss to seal their union before family and friends.
In Guatemala, where family means everything, it is common for girls to marry quite young and to have many children. It is important for everyone, from the youngest baby to the oldest grandparent or great grandparent to attend a wedding. Flowers are everywhere and there is much dancing and singing and happy, joyous music everywhere.
In a traditional Guatemalan wedding it is customary for the bride and groom to be bound together with a silver rope symbolizing their eternal union. It is also common for the bride and her bridesmaids and her flower girls to all wear matching white wedding gowns.
About 40% of all weddings in Guatemala are Mayan, and follow ancient Mayan customs and traditions. Flowers are everywhere at a Guatemalan wedding, and the ceremony is followed by much singing and dancing and rejoicing.
Thirteen gold coins symbolize the groom’s commitment to take care of his new bride.
In Panama it is customary for the groom to give his new bride 13 gold coins during the ceremony and for the priest to bless the coins. The coins are a symbol of the groom’s commitment to support his new bride.
Ancient Mayan traditions blend with more modern Catholic wedding traditions to create a wedding ceremony that pleases everyone.
Central America has a wonderful mixture of Catholic, Protestant and Mayan cultures and wedding customs, and it is seldom that one custom is free from the influence of the others. Catholic weddings in Central America routinely have aspects of Mayan traditions tossed in for good measure.
But Weddings here, as everywhere, celebrate the joining of two people together as a family of their own, and celebrate the spirit of the continuation of life and the need to share ourselves with another.
Eastern European Wedding:
Eastern Europe has many ancient and colorful wedding traditions that go back hundreds of years. Many of these traditions have seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years as many younger couples are looking for more traditional soil in which to plant the roots of their family trees.
May you be blessed with long life, prosperity, happiness and fertility
Many Eastern European wedding traditions concern long life, fertility and happiness and prosperity. In Czechoslovakia, for example, the bride’s friends would often plant a tree in her yard and decorate it with ribbons and brightly-painted egg shells. The belief was that the bride would live as long as the tree. Traditionally an infant would be laid on the couple’s wedding bed as a symbol of fertility. After the ceremony the young couple would traditionally break plates and the more pieces the plates broke into the more successful their marriage would be.
In Hungary a new bride wore an elaborate headdress at her wedding in which was woven strands of wheat as a symbol of fertility. Also a new bride would be presented with an egg. By smashing it she would insure the health of her future children. Traditionally the new bride would present her husband with a gift of seven scarves, seven being a lucky number and signifying her desire for a long and happy marriage.
A wedding tradition in Poland holds that the parents of the couple present them with rye bread sprinkled with salt and a glass of wine. The bread symbolizes hope that the couple will never go hungry, the salt symbolizes that life will have its difficulties, and the wine is a blessing for health and happiness.
Starting life together on the right foot
Just before her wedding a Bulgarian bride will toss a dish filled with wheat, coins and a raw egg over her head. If the dish breaks it signifies good luck to come. It is also a sign of future happiness if the bride and groom each step into the church with the right foot first. At the reception the bride’s mother throws flowers in the path of the newlyweds to insure their future health, happiness and purity, and the groom’s mother feeds the couple sweet honeyed cakes to insure their long and sweet marriage.
In the country of Croatia custom dictates that following the ceremony all of the wedding guests circle the well at the church three times to signify the Holy Trinity and then each guest throws an apple into the well to insure the fertility of the new couple.
Marriage is so important in Romania that young girls start planning their wedding day as young as aged six, when they begin collecting the treasures to fill their wedding trousseau.
But what sets an Eastern European wedding apart from all others is the music and songs and the dancing. Weddings are a time to celebrate, to look forward with hope and courage and love. Weddings in Eastern Europe, as everywhere, symbolize the human spirit as nothing else can. Violins and lively gypsy music fill the air as colorful costumes twirl across the dance floor in a never-ending kaleidoscope of joy and happiness for all the world to witness.
Middle Eastern Traditions:
North American Wedding Traditions:
North American wedding traditions are among the most flexible and varied in all the world.
North America encompasses many cultures and many wedding traditions. Mexican wedding traditions have been influenced by Spain, France, and by their own ancient and rich cultural traditions stretching as far back as the Aztecs. The melting-pot wedding traditions in the United States have been influenced by virtually every country and every culture on Earth, making for a rich and varied amalgam of traditions. Canadian traditions have been influenced strongly by both English traditions as well as French traditions.
This makes North American Wedding traditions some of the most flexible and varied in all the world. No matter what your dream wedding may be, it is sure to find a welcome place in grand scheme of North American wedding Traditions.
Two souls united in the “lasso” of love.
In Mexico, for example, it is customary during the vows for a white ribbon or for a rosary, called a “lasso,” to be draped around the necks of the newlyweds to symbolize their joining together. It is also customary for the groom to present his wife with thirteen gold coins during the ceremony, symbolizing the groom’s commitment to support his new wife. As the couple leaves the church it is customary for red beads to be tossed at them as a means of insuring the new couple good luck.
At a Mexican wedding reception it is customary for the guests to form a heart-shaped circle around the wedding couple as they engage in their first dance as husband and wife.
A paper mache pinata, often shaped like a heart and filled with candy, is suspended from the ceiling and the children take turns swinging at it with a stick until it is broken and the candy is shared among all the guests.
In Victorian times American brides customarily wore white gloves which were symbols of both modesty as well as a symbol of romance. Even today many brides wear white gloves as a romantic gesture.
In the United States it is common for the couple to write their own wedding vows.
Today’s wedding ceremony in the United States can be a rather elaborate affair, especially among the affluent, but small backyard weddings are also common. No matter what the setting it is becoming more and more common for American couples to write their own wedding vows, expressing their love and commitment for each other in their own words and expressing their own unique feelings.
Traditionally wedding ceremonies in North America end with the couple exchanging wedding rings – the circular ring, with no beginning and no end symbolizing ever-lasting love – and the traditional wedding kiss, to seal their union in front of friends and family.
As the newlyweds leave the ceremony tradition calls for rice to be tossed at the couple as a symbol of fertility.
Wedding gifts are given to help the new couple establish their new home.
Wedding gifts are also a customary North American wedding tradition. Wedding gifts are a way for friends and family to help the young couple set up their new home together and to help smooth the path of their new life together.
North American wedding traditions embrace virtually any ethnic or cultural tradition practiced anywhere in the world. So no matter what the wedding of your dreams might look like, if you can envision it, you can realize it within the ideal of the North American wedding tradition.
Wedding Traditions in the Caribbean:
It’s time for a wedding, mon!
While many Caribbean Island weddings borrow from the customs and traditions of the U.S. in their wedding ceremonies, the peculiar blend of African and European cultures which is found nowhere else in all the world give the Caribbean Islands a flavor all their own when it comes to wedding traditions.
The bride and groom show off their finest clothes for the entire village.
While customs vary from island to island, it is common for the bride and groom to dress in their finest clothes and to walk from either the bride’s house or the groom’s house to the church while the church bells ring, announcing the wedding to the whole island. Typically everyone from the village lines the street to view the couple as they walk to the church and it is customary for onlooker to comment on the bride’s and groom’s clothes.
Traditionally guests were invited to the wedding by word-of-mouth, with only a few honored guests receiving hand-written invitations. However, a Caribbean Island wedding doesn’t stand on ceremony, and anyone who shows up, invited or not, is welcome at the wedding.
There’s no need for a best man at an Island wedding!
There is no such thing as a best man at a Caribbean Island wedding. The bride’s father or often both of her parents escort her down the aisle with her face hidden by a veil. At the end of the ceremony, which is often a mixture of Catholic and Mayan and African, the groom lifts the veil and kisses his new bride to the cheering of family and friends.
A Caribbean Island wedding reception can go on all night, with traditional steel-drum island music, lots and lots of sweet but potent rum punch, wild dancing and many toasts to the health and happiness of the new couple. Among the many wonderful hand-made gifts which are traditional at Caribbean weddings are exquisite hand-made quilts and home-made furniture.
A typical wedding feast features curried goat and spicy chicken jerky
The food at a typical island reception reflects the uniqueness of the Islands. Where else in the world would you find curried goat, spicy chicken jerky, fried plantains and conch fritters at a wedding feast?
The traditional wedding cake is a “Black Cake” with the recipe handed down from mother to daughter for many generations.
An Island wedding cake is unique in all the world. Tradition calls for a “Black Cake,” with the recipe handed down from mother to daughter and improved upon by each succeeding generation. The basic ingredients of an Island wedding cake include a pound of flour, a pound of brown sugar, a pound of butter, and a pound of glazed cherries, raisins, prunes, currants, and a dozen fresh eggs.
The cake is traditionally served with a Hard Rum Sauce and all of the dried fruits are soaked in rum in a crock pot for anywhere from two weeks to one year.
After the reception the new couple often spend a week in seclusion in a home provided by the groom, or they may travel to a nearby island and spend a glorious week together before returning to their home to start their new life together.
An Island wedding is one of the most happy and up-beat celebrations you will ever attend. Who can listen to the melodious and haunting sound of the steel drum without the romance of the tropics washing over their soul?
Come, mon – it’s time for a wedding!
Wedding Traditions in the Pacific Islands:
Picture it. An endless white-sand beach with gently-swaying palms and the soft hiss of waves on the shore. The wind is warm and gentle and filled with the fragrance of exotic flowers. In the background colorful birds call to one another in a musical language all their own.
Could anything be more colorful or more picturesque that a Pacific Island Wedding?
In Fiji the groom is expected to present the bride’s father with a whale tooth.
In Fiji it is traditional for a young man to ask the girl’s father for her hand. It is also customary for the young man to present the bride’s father with a gift. Custom dictates that the gift should be the tooth of a whale, which symbolizes status and wealth.
Assuming a young Fiji man receives permission to marry from the bride’s father, the prospective groom is expected to prepare a lavish feast and to send it to the bride’s family. This is called the “warming.” Just before the wedding, it is tradition for the Fiji bride to be tattooed, a sign of beauty on the islands.
And what Fiji wedding reception would be complete without the tradition drink of the islands, Kava. Kava is brewed from the crushed root of the native kava plant. At the reception there is much traditional music and dancing, with gifts exchanged between the bride’s and groom’s families.
One of the oldest traditions on the Hawaiian Islands is the flower lei.
In Hawaii the wedding tradition calls for flowers. Flowers everywhere. The bride and groom are decked out in flower leis, which symbolize love and respect. Each flower lei consists of 40 to 50 fresh flowers strung on a colorful ribbon and are one of the oldest symbols of Hawaiian culture.
Both the bride and the groom dress in pure white, with the groom wearing either a red sash or a black cloth belt tied around his waist.
No Hawaiian wedding would be complete without the “Hawaiian Wedding Song,” and it is customary for the bride’s and groom’s Hawaiian names to be engraved upon their gold wedding bands.
In the Philippine Islands the witnesses are responsible for seeing to it that the ancient wedding traditions are observed.
In the Philippine Islands ancient rituals and traditions are still observed. During the ceremony, which is attended by all of the bride’s and groom’s family and friends, the witnesses, or sponsors, are responsible for many of the wedding traditions.
The first tradition calls for the pinning of the bride’s veil to the groom’s shoulder, symbolizing that the couple is now clothed as one. Following that a pure white cord is draped around the couple’s necks to symbolize the ever-lasting bond which now binds them together.
Next, three candles are lit. The bride lights one candle, the groom lights another, and together the bride and groom light the Unity Candle, the candle which signifies their union as husband and wife.
The final Philippine wedding tradition calls for the groom to present his bride with thirteen gold coins which have been blessed by the priest. The thirteen coins are a symbolic promise of faithfulness and prosperity.
The Philippine wedding reception is a time of joy, laughter, music and dance. The traditional dance is the Pandango, which is often danced non-stop for hours at a time. Traditionally guests pin money to the bride’s dress during the dance to help pay for the honeymoon. Often there is a birdcage decorated as a wedding bell and filled with white doves. The bride and groom release the doves as a symbol of their going off together in peace and love.
Though the traditions may be different, though the customs may vary, no matter where you go the tradition of marriage remains true. It is a joyful joining to two lives, celebrated the world over for the miracle that it truly is.
Wedding in Oceania:
Oceania primarily refers to Australia and New Zealand, two of the most remote countries in the world, yet two of the most exciting and vibrant countries on earth as well. Both New Zealand and Australia are members of the British Commonwealth and so they have borrowed many of their wedding traditions from Great Britain – although they have been flavored by the traditions of the native populations of both nations.
In Australia a wedding keepsake bible is handed down from generation to generation.
The white wedding dress has been traditional in Australia for many centuries and is still popular today, symbolizing hope and joy for the future. It is traditional in Australia to give the bride a groom a keepsake bible as a wedding gift. Marriage bibles are treasured family heirlooms and are often passed down from generation to generation.
Traditionally Australian weddings include all members of the bride’s as well as the groom’s families. Family squabbles and differences are traditionally set aside on this special day so that the newlyweds can be blessed with a happy and joyous start along the road of their new lives together.
Most Australian wedding traditions have been borrowed from England, but it is also common for Scottish and Irish wedding ceremonies to be performed in Australia, and many ceremonies are also flavored with Aboriginal customs. One thing that never changes, however, is the exchange of rings at the conclusion of the ceremony. The wedding ring, a perfect circle with no beginning and no ending, symbolizes never-ending love in Australia just as it does in most of the rest of the world.
An Australian wedding reception is apt to feature a wide range of music, everything from traditional English and American music to bagpipes and even the haunting melody of the Aboriginal didgeridoo.
In New Zealand it is considered bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding.
The wedding tradition in New Zealand calls for a lavish church wedding, a white-gowned bride and all the bridesmaids. The groom wears dark pants and a white shirt and dark coat and he is flanked by his best man and his groomsmen. It is considered bad luck for the groom to see his bride on the day of the wedding before she walks down the aisle.
An additional aspect of a New Zealand wedding is the incorporation of traditional Maori wedding customs. The Maori are the native people of New Zealand and their customs and traditions are held in high esteem by many New Zealanders.
Maori wedding traditions are often incorporated into the New Zealand wedding ceremony.
Maori wedding tradition includes the ceremonial Powhiri welcome to the bride and the groom, and may include the traditional warrior challenge. Often a New Zealand wedding is conducted by a Maori tribal elder and at the conclusion of the ceremony the couple is blessed in the Maori language.
And no Maori-flavored Oceania wedding would be complete without the “infinity loops” placed around the necks of the bride and the groom, symbolizing never-ending love.
It doesn’t matter if you are at the top of the world or if you are in the very heart of the land down under, weddings bring out the best in everyone and call for joyous celebration the world over. In Oceania the traditions are a beautiful mix of the new with the ancient, creating a wedding experience that is unique to this very special corner of the world down under.
Western European Wedding Traditions:
Wedding traditions in Western Europe are as varied as the countries that make up the region – from Ireland to Italy, from Portugal to Switzerland and everything in between, the wonderful, colorful wedding traditions of Western Europe span almost a quarter of our world.
The engagement ring – one of the oldest of the Western European wedding traditions.
One of the ancient traditions of Western Europe which is still going strong today is the idea of the engagement ring. It was way back in 860 A.D. that Pope Nicholas I proclaimed that not only was an engagement ring required to seal the agreement to be married, but that the engagement ring must be made of gold. The making of the ring out of gold signified that the groom was willing to make a financial sacrifice for his new bride-to-be.
It would be another 617 years before the tradition of adding a diamond to an engagement ring would be started. It was in the year 1477 that King Maximilian presented the lovely Mary of Burgundy with a diamond engagement ring, and from that day to this a diamond has been a girl’s best friend.
It was in Italy, the land of love, that gold wedding rings first became popular, and it was also in Italy that the tradition of the wedding cake was first begun when, in the first century B.C., a cake or bread was broken over the bride’s head to insure fertility.
The tradition of the Best Man began in medieval Germany.
It was in ancient Germany that the Western European tradition of a Best Man began. In olden days it was sometimes necessary for a man to kidnap his bride from a neighboring village and he needed his strongest friend (his Best Man) to help with the kidnapping and to stand by him at the wedding ceremony to fight off any relatives that might try to take her back.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.
But it was in England that many of our most enduring Western European wedding traditions got their beginning. The ancient nursery rhyme about something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue is now an important part of most Western European weddings, even though many brides and grooms no longer know the significance of the rhyme.
Something old is symbolic of continuity. The old item was often a piece of lace or a grandmother’s scarf or an old piece of jewelry. Something new signifies hope for the future, and can be anything from a piece of clothing to the wedding band itself. Something borrowed is symbolic of future happiness and is often provided by a happily married friend of the bride. And finally, something blue. In ancient times blue was the color of purity and often both the bride and the groom wore a band of blue cloth around the bottom of their wedding attire.
It was the knights of yore who gave us the Western European tradition of the groom wearing a single flower. It was customary for a knight to wear a flower or a colorful handkerchief belonging to their lady fair when they entered a tournament. The tradition later evolved to the groom wearing a flower from his bride’s wedding bouquet.
The white wedding gown was not a symbol of purity, but rather a symbol of joy.
What wedding today would be complete without the white wedding gown? Prior to the 16th century, however, this most important Western European Wedding tradition was not common. It wasn’t until Ann of Brittany popularized the white wedding dress in 1499 that the tradition became part of Western European wedding culture.
During the Tudor period in England it became customary for the wedding party to throw old shoes at the bride and groom’s carriage; if the carriage was struck by a shoe it was considered a symbol of good fortune to follow. From this old Western European wedding custom was born the tradition of typing shoes to the back of the broom and bride’s car.
And finally it is time for the groom to carry his new bride across the threshold.
And finally, what wedding tradition would be complete with the groom carrying his new bride over the threshold of their home? This Western European tradition began with two beliefs. The first one was that if the bride were to trip or stumble as she entered her new home (as she crossed her new threshold for the first time) bad luck would plague the marriage. The second belief was that evil spirits inhabited the threshold of a new couple’s home and that if the bride stepped on the threshold the evil spirits would enter through her feet and the marriage would be doomed.
The romantic answer, of course, was for the groom to carry his new bride across the threshold.
Western European wedding traditions have come down to us from many countries and many cultures to blend together seamlessly into the romantic wedding traditions that we know and cherish today.