Wedding Traditions Viewed Historically

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In the United States and many European countries, little girls who pretend to have a wedding often follow the same pattern.  There must be someone to play the part of bride and groom, there must be someone standing up front who will marry the couple and order them to kiss. There is typically some type of long aisle to walk, whether it is made of chairs, pillows or a garden pathway. If enough children are involved in the imaginative playtime, there may even be children who are assigned to follow along behind the happy coupe and throw rice or flower petals after the exchanging of the wedding rings. The fact that so much of modern day America and Europe practice the same type of wedding rituals makes it easy for children to mimic what they understand to be the normal marriage ceremony. Other children of the world, however, may play act wedding rituals very differently. 

Africa

During the 18th century, most of Africa was ruled by the Asante. It was very important to them that the roads were kept very clean using locally made brooms. These brooms were not only used to keep roadways clean, but also to help sweep away past wrongs and evil spirits. One important time to make sure there were no evil spirits was when a young couple was getting married. Brooms were often waved over the couple’s heads during the wedding ceremony. At the end of the wedding ceremony, some couples also jumped over the broom. For the new wife, this signified a willingness to keep her new home and courtyard clean.  Whoever was able to jump higher over the broom was said to be the leader or decision maker of the home. This was most often the man. Some African-American ceremonies today still end their wedding ceremony by jumping over the broom.

Finland

In Finland, it is possible to have a marriage ceremony that takes only two minutes. During this ceremony, the purpose of marriage is explained and the bride and groom are asked if they accept the other person. The word “Tahdon” is used in place of the American “I do.”   A religion based Finnish ceremony, may take much longer. Some are filled with scripture, prayer, speeches and music. Those Finnish couples that choose to have a full wedding ceremony may still walk the aisle; however, the bride and groom make the entrance and the slow procession together. Traditionally, a Finnish ceremony had one bridesmaid, or kasso, and one groomsman, or puhemies.

Scotland

Mimicking pre-wedding activities in Scotland could end up getting young children in trouble. It is traditional for Scottish brides to learn the hard way just how difficult marriage could be. This teaching is provided by friends of the bride. A bride is often surprised by her friends before the wedding. Their intent is to throw trash and rotten food at the bride. Well meaning friends even resort to using tar and feathers to help prepare the future bride for any difficulties that might occur during her marriage.

Each culture has its own wedding rituals that are patterned for the following generation. American children seem to enjoy practicing western wedding ceremonies; however, they may find rituals of other cultures difficult to understand. Though access to worldwide media may be bringing different cultures closer together with reference to wedding similarities, there are some traditions that will always set countries apart from each other. 

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