Wedding Traditions Across Different Cultures Essay

1541 words - 6 pages

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Wedding Traditions Across Different Cultures

When it comes to planning a wedding, people have to worry not only about food,

flowers, and what they wear, they also have to honor many traditions, even if they don't

understand their origins or meanings. However, to not follow these traditions,

understood or not, might mean bad luck for the marriage or, at the very least, disgruntled

wedding guests.

Every culture cherishes its own marriage traditions and superstitions. Many are

not understood but are still seriously followed because 'it's always been done that way';

(Kendrick). Even people not normally superstitious wouldn't think of violating these


Many traditions originated from old rhymes, folktales or tribal traditions whose

origins are lost in time. For example, one of the original meanings of the word

'wedding'; was to gamble or wager. This comes from the time when a bride price was

required before marriage. This bride price could include land, social status, political

alliances or money. Thus, the 'Anglo-Saxon word 'wedd' meant that the groom would

vow to marry the woman, but it also referred to the bride price (money or barter) to be

paid by the groom to the bride's father'; (Kendrick).

There are equally surprising origins for such traditions as the ring finger, wedding

ring, engagement ring (and its diamond), and wedding cake. For example, the finger

used as the ring finger differs from culture to culture. In Greece during the third century

the index finger was used. In India they used the thumb. The 'modern'; ring finger

started being used in the fourth century when the Greeks originated the belief that the

third finger was connected to the heart by the 'vena amoris,'; or the vein of love.

Use of a wedding ring can be traced back to Roman times, and even back then it

was made of gold. Roman rings were often decorated with a carving of two hands to

symbolize two people journeying through life together as one. Early women's rings also

had keys carved in them, symbolizing that women were able to unlock the hearts of their


It was 'Pope Nicholas I [in 860 AD, who first] decreed an engagement ring become a

required statement of nuptial intent,'; (Kendrick). He insisted that this ring also be made

of gold, it's worth requiring a sacrifice on the man's part for the woman he was about to

marry. This ring went up in value in the fifteenth century when a diamond was added to

it. It was believed that the diamond's durability and strength would symbolized the

strength of the relationship.

Most of these traditions deal with the strength of the relationship (or its worth or

value), but there are other wedding traditions that deal (directly or indirectly) with

fertility. For example, in the first century BC the Romans began using wedding...

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