Ethnic Wedding Traditions
By Mary Jane Holmes
Weddings and the way they are conducted, vary greatly from one culture to another and from one religion to another. Many couples who don't practice a religion seem to want a religious or ethnic wedding ceremony. Here are a few wedding traditions from various cultures. If you find a tradition here that you feel has meaning for you feel free to adapt it for your wedding, without demeaning the culture it came from.
Chinese - During a Chinese wedding ceremony, the couple drink from goblets of wine and honey. The bride is fed jujubes, a date like fruit, to increase the chance of having a son in the near future.
Muslims - a Muslim wedding does not take place in a mosque as one might expect but in the office of an Islamic magistrate, and in the presence of three male witnesses. The contract is made between the groom and the brides father or closest male relative, with the girl's consent. The groom is required to give the bride, money gold and gifts to insure her future. When all of this is completed the papers are signed and the couple is now married. The bride then returns to her parent's home to get ready for the reception.
African-American - Many African-American couple today are opting for traditional east African wedding ceremonies but most have an American Wedding. However more and More couples are incorporating the "jumping the broom ritual into their weddings. This practice originated during the era of slavery when slaves were forbidden to marry. Jumping the Broom, was a way of expressing their commitment to one another. Brooms were used in African homes to sweep evil away from the home and family. Some people believe that the ritual may have been a way of rejecting the evil that forbade their union.
Jewish - There are three different branches within Judaism, Orthodox, Conservative and Reformed. Orthodox grooms "Veil their brides in a ceremony before the actual wedding to signify that they are betrothed. Then the groom signs the contract, called the Ketubah, a beautifully decorated document which details what the groom promises to provide the bride. Both men and women have to have their heads covered. The ceremony takes place under a canopy. After the vows are said, the Orthodox groom places a plain gold band on the ring finger of his bride's right hand. The reformed bride wears her ring on the left hand. The Contract is read and the ceremony ends with the Seven Blessings. The Groom breaks a glass with his heel to remind the congregation of the Destruction of the Temple and other catastrophes that have befallen the Jewish people.
Native American There are many Native American tribes while some wedding traditions are shared by several tribes, some are unique to just individual tribes. We will only go into a few here.
Northern California Traditions
A man of low social standing would pay only half the bride price and then move into his in-laws home and be under the rule of the brides father. The Bride's family would allow this because they needed another man in the family.
Jewelry is considered a shield against evil and both bride and groom wear turquoise and silver jewelry at the wedding.
Either the male or the female may propose, they do it by presenting food gifts
No marriage between members of the nuclear family are permitted.
Every culture has it's own wedding traditions and they deserve to respected. Many young couple today are choosing to incorporate the traditions of their ancestors rejected by their parents and grandparents in an effort to become "more American".
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