As of October first, Hubby and I will have been married forty-two years. In a row.
In honor of the occasion, I thought I’d share a few bizarre marriage traditions from around the globe.
In the history of my husband’s home community, the story goes of a young bride who was kidnapped by friends—all in good fun—following the wedding ceremony. The so-called friends decided it would be hilarious to use a tractor’s front-end loader to lift the young woman to the top of a haystack and leave her there. They hadn’t figured on the bride chipping one of her front teeth. It’s all fun and games until someone loses a tooth.
The custom, known in America as a shivaree, was common in the American Midwest farming communities prior to World War II and varied from town to town. Further digging tells me it probably found its roots in France, where the word “charivari” is a French folk custom in which the community gave a noisy, discordant mock serenade by pounding on pots and pans, at the home of newlyweds. The couple was then expected to host the gathered crowd, providing food and drink.
Mauritania is a country in northwest Africa where one marriage custom could not be more opposite from ours. In preparation for her wedding, a bride intentionally tries to gain weight, even going so far as to attend a “fat camp” where she packs on the pounds, disregarding her own health. Why? Because carrying extra weight on your wedding day is considered good luck.
If you are a groom in South Korea, your friends may not allow you to leave until they remove your socks and shoes, tie your ankles together, and beat the soles of your feet with a dead fish or bamboo sticks. Locals believe this practice, called Fаlаkа, makes the groom stronger in his marriage and family life. If you decide to try it, you should know the fish of choice is dried Yellow Corvina.
If you are a bride or groom in parts of rural Scotland or Northern Ireland, you might be subject to a custom called “blackening.” One or both members of the couple have all manner of disgusting slop poured over them—the stickier the better—before being loaded into the back of a truck and paraded around town. The reasons behind this are not clear, but I can’t help wondering if it involves vengeful ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends. At least the event occurs several days or weeks before the wedding, so there’s plenty of time to clean up.
If you’re planning a more rustic wedding, you might want to try an old German tradition known as “baumstamm sägen,” the ritualistic sawing of logs by the bride and groom. Sawing a log in tandem symbolizes the couple’s ability to work together in accomplishing tasks that take collective strength and a lot of endurance, as most marriages often do. I think I like that one!
In a recent conversation with a wise friend who happens to be divorced, I heard her make an intuitive statement along these lines. “People should buddy up for life, no matter what. That way you always have someone to help you through the thick and thin. You can ease each other’s old age. Marriage was a really good idea.”
Yes, it was. Maybe not the crazy customs, but the spirit of it for sure.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9)