A Quick Guide to Wedding Traditions Around the World

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The idea of ​​a typical wedding ceremony is so ingrained in modern culture that it's easy to forget how widely varied wedding traditions can be. Around the world and through history, different groups of people have created unique wedding invitations to celebrate this joyful event. From ancient Babylon to the present, people have developed numerous notable wedding traditions:

Ancient Babylon is allegedly the source of two well-known wedding traditions. One is that of the honeymoon. Sources vary, but most claim that the 'honey' in honeymoon refers to mead. Some claim that the wedding traditions of the day revolved around letting the husband and wife drink mead together; others believe that the tradition was for them to spend enough time together for honey to ferment into mead. The 'moon' may also refer to the length of time required for the brewing – in this case, their wedding traditions would call for celebration thinking from one full moon to the next.

The ancient Romans believed that if the bride stumbled on the way to her new home, it would be bad luck. To solve this, their wedding traditions called for the groom to carry her across the threshold – a tradition that survives to this day (albeit without the same justification). Other traditions held that the threshold contained evil spirits, and that the groom was obliged to carry his new bride over them to keep her safe.

Many African-American communities once practiced wedding traditions centered around jumping over a broom. Jumping the broom was seen as an action taken by each member of the couple, that required them to work together, and that could be done in sight of the full community. In conditions of dire poverty, ceremonies with more elaborate parties and gift exports were impractical. The trend became less common after the Civil War, but these traditional wedding practices were revived in the wake of the television series Roots .

Some Jewish wedding traditions include: marrying a canopy made of two prayer shawls, to symbolize the new home; drinking a glass of wine together to symbolize companionship; and allowing the husband to smash the wine glass as his last chance to 'put his foot down'. Other unique variations on the wedding ceremony include blessing the new couple, and changing detailed vows in a special contract, which specify both what the couple is obliged to do, and what will happen int he event of a divorce.

Polish wedding traditions once required a three-day wedding, to which guests were invited in person by the bride and groom. The wedding ceremony itself involved only the bride, groom, parents, and a few friends, but afterwards it was generally time for a lengthy party. On the way to the party, the newlyweds would traditionally give away vodka to some guests.

Ancient Chinese wedding rituals are highly formalized: before a wedding, the families must exchange letters according to a specified formula, and then arrange a marriage while following a strict protocol. These wedding traditions were created in the context of arranged marriages, and are no longer present except in a highly modified form.