A Black (And White) Wedding:
Traditional Filipino and Spanish Marriage Ceremonies
The concept of marriage has existed in nearly all human cultures throughout history, though its participants, basis, and goals have varied a great deal. Still, in almost all modern societies it is seen as a person’s most important relationship and the foundation of family. Therefore, it is not surprising that weddings, the celebration of marriage, are treated as important, milestone events in countries around the world. Such ceremonies are so rich with meaning and hope for the bride and groom and their family and friends that complex, constantly evolving traditions have grown up around weddings that emphasize the spirit of the day as well as attempt to confer luck and happiness on the couple. Just as every culture has its own beliefs and customs, no two cultures’ wedding traditions are the same. At first glance, traditional Filipino and Spanish weddings may seem to have much in common, due to the four centuries-long Spanish dominance of the island nation, during which many Filipinos adopted Spanish practices. However, while Filipinos did incorporate many Spanish customs into their marriage ceremonies, traditional weddings in both countries reflect their roots and unique heritage.
Given the long history of Spanish rule in the Philippines, it is not surprising that the latter adopted many of their colonizers’ customs, especially as marriage is often closely tied to religion, and the Spanish converted many Filipinos to Catholicism. Orange blossoms are popular in Spanish weddings. Orange blossom is the waxy, white blossom of the orange tree and are very fragrant. Spanish believes that it is a symbol of simultaneous happiness and fulfillment as the orange tree’s flowers and fruit bloom at the same time (Stinson). This is one tradition that Filipinos adopted, and orange blossoms are still popular in bouquets and decorations in the Philippines today. Both the bride and the groom walk down the aisle in Spanish and Filipino weddings. Rings are of course an important part of the wedding, but the groom traditionally gives the bride 13 coins, called arras (unity coins) in Spain (Rivera 35) and arrhae in the Philippines (Dresser 114) as well. According to the book author Judith Noble and World of Wedding Traditions website, the coins comes in size of 1 millimeter and sometimes bigger in diameter and comes in silver and gold tones. These 13 coins symbolizes Jesus and his twelve apostles. In both cultures, the coins represent the groom’s commitment to his wife and future children’s wellbeing, and the priest blesses them during the ceremony.
After wedding, at the reception, the newlyweds and their guests perform a traditional dance, during which guests often present the couple with gifts or donate money to help pay for the honeymoon and other costs associated with beginning a married life. In the Philippines, this dance is called the pandango (Pantilon), while in Spain...