German Wedding Traditions

Most citizens in the United States are aware of the traditions related to marriage in the U.S. June is the favorite month for a wedding. “Something borrowed, something blue”, the “groom’s party” for the parents and wedding party, a “dowry (perhaps)”, it is “unlucky to see the bride in her wedding dress before the ceremony”, the father of the bride making that long trip down the aisle with his daughter, and men, let’s not forget the “stag party”!

But in Germany the preferred month for marriage is May. The traditions related to marriage in Germany are many and vary by region. Also, some of the younger generations may not practice the following wedding traditions any longer.

Eheringe (Wedding rings)

During the engagement period both the bride and groom wear a ring on their left hand. After the wedding they wear the wedding ring on their right hand. Usually the rings are gold with no diamonds.

Brautkleid (Bride’s attire)

In Germany, as in the U.S, the bride wears “white”. But in Germany brides wear either very short trains or usually none at all attached to their wedding dress. If veils are worn they are of fingertip length and typically never worn over the face as in the U.S. Often in place of veils a flowery headband with ribbons is worn. Other accessories included may be a Diadem (Tiara), a little draw string purse and gloves. The custom is for the bride to dress at her home or her parent’s home and then drive to the ceremony.

Brautigams Kleidung (Groom’s attire)

The groom usually wears a black suit or a smoking jacket (dinner jacket)

Die Standesamtliche Trauung (The Wedding)

Before a church wedding the bride and groom will have been married in the Standesamt (Registry Office) by a registrar which is most often in the Rathaus (town hall). A witness is needed for the bride and also for the groom.

Die Kirche-Hochzeit (The Church Wedding)

Together, the bride and groom will enter the church and walk down the aisle. Because it is not legal to have only a church ceremony, the couple will have already been legally married by a Standesbeamte. Unlike in the U.S. it is not customary for there to be bridesmaids, groomsmen or flower girls.

Andere Deutsche Traditionen (Other German traditions)

Brides often carry salt and bread as an omen for good harvests and the groom carries grain for wealth and good fortune.

Before the wedding the bride’s possessions are transported to her new home. These may include linens she has collected, a cradle into which a doll has been secretly placed, and for the wedding of a farm girl, her parents second-best cow.

Hochzeitslader

This Bavarian tradition has an official inviter clad in fancy clothes decorated with ribbons and flowers going door to door extending a personal rhyming invitation to the invited guests. Guests accept by pinning one of the ribbons to the Hochzeitslader hat and by offering a drink or two at each stop. Should the invited guests be numerous and the Hochzeitslader be of the nature to accept the offered drinks he may need a day or two to complete his duties!

Junggesellenabschied (Bachelor Party)

Some weeks before the wedding the groom and his male friends go to a Kneipe (pub) to drink and have fun for his last time as a single man.

Polterabend (Wedding Eve)

At a party on the evening before the wedding plates and dishes are smashed to scare off evil spirits. Only china can be used. Anything else would bring bad luck. The bride and groom have to clean up everything. This is to indicate that they can work together.

Hochzeit-Schuhe (Wedding shoes)

Another tradition is for the bride to collect pennies for years to pay for her wedding shoes in which to insure that the marriage “gets off” on the right foot. The bride’s mother would place some dill and salt in her daughter’s right shoe.

Baumstamm Sagen (Log sawing)

Another old Bavarian tradition occurs right after the church ceremony. When the couple exits the Church there is a log on a sawhorse and the couple has to cut the log in half! This is to symbolize the first tough tasks of their future they can accomplish together.

Fichtenzweige (Fir boughs)

As the couple walks to the wedding car, fir boughs are laid along the path to pave their first newlywed steps with fresh greenery to symbolize hope, luck and fertility.

Reis Werfen (Rich throwing)

In this tradition it is said that the amount of rice that stays in the bride’s hair is the number of children the couple will have.

Hochzeitssuppe (Wedding soup)

The Hochzeitssuppe is made from beef, dumplings and vegetables and the guests eat if from a large bowl.

Eine Weisse Band (A white ribbon)

As the guests leave the church the bride gives a white ribbon to each driver of a car in the procession to tie to the radio antenna of the car. This procession then drives through the town honking their horns. Other drivers on the route honk their horns in return to wish the newlyweds good luck in their marriage.

Hochzeitstanz (Wedding dance)

The first dance is danced by the bride and groom and is traditionally a waltz. The next dance is only for the bride with her father and groom with his mother, while the bride’s mother dances with the groom’s father.

Brautbecher (Bridal cup)

A customary toast at the reception in the southern part of Germany is done with a special brautbecher (bridal cup). The pewter or crystal cup is in a form of a maiden holding above her head a small cup. Both ends of the cup (the bride’s skirt and the top cup) are filled with champagne or wine and the bride and groom drink their first toast from this cup together at the same time signifying their union as one. This age old tradition stems from centuries ago in the small town of Nuernberg.

Hindu Wedding Traditions

Hindu weddings are like weddings everywhere they are occasions of great joy and happiness for all present and are considered to be very important by all Hindus.

Having said that Hindu weddings can be conducted in anyone of a number of ways according to the Hindu sect of the bride and bridegroom, Hindu wedding traditions are very old and to the westerner may seem a little strange, but they are always fascinating.

Almost without exception a Hindu wedding is conducted in the Sanskrit language, but because most people these days don’t understand Sanskrit the language of the bride and groom are used as well.

Because weddings and the traditions associated with them are so important Hindu weddings are often rather long affairs and can last for a number of days. They are also very colourful and contain many cherished and sacred artefacts and practices.

A traditional Hindu wedding actually starts before the main ceremony with a pre-wedding ceremony or indeed ceremonies. One such ceremony will be the engagement at which the Vagdana will be celebrated.

Depending upon the place where you get married and the particular part of the Hindu religion you worship there are up to 20 main rites that need to be performed in order for you to be proclaimed married these are:

1. Vagdana

2. Vinayakvidhana

3. Kankanabandhana

4. Grhasamskara

5. Toranavidhi

6. Vivahavidhi

7. Parasparamukhavalokana

8. Varamala

9. Varapratijna

10. Kanyadana

11. Devasastragurupuja

12. Homahuti

13. Granthibandhana

14. Panigrahana

15. Saptapadi

16. Punyahavachana

17. Santimantra

18. Asirvada

19. Svagrhagamana

20. Jinagrhe Dhanarpana

These rites are Svetambaras or “White Clad” sect rites if you follow Digambaras the naked ones and their rites then there are only 16.

Although with both sects of the Hindu religion there are a lot of rites or traditions to be followed by the bride and bridegroom both sects of the Hindu religion tend to agree that the following rites or traditions are the most important. Vagdana, Pradana,Varana, Panipidana and Saptamadi and they are explained blow

The word Vagdana is a Sanskrit word which literally means “Word Giving” and in the Hindu tradition when a bride and groom make vow to marry they make an oral agreement to be married. The Vagdana ceremony usually takes place about a month before the actual marriage ceremony.

The Vagdana is one of the most solemn parts of the wedding tradition. It is only after the Vagdana ceremony that the couple can be married.

In some sects of the Hindu religion about 15 days before the wedding a small piece of bread is tied to the bridegroom’s hand and to his parents. This all happens in the Barni Bandhwana ceremony and is a symbolic way of removing any obstacles to the marriage and the forthcoming ceremonies.

After the Vagdana comes the Pradana a tradition where the bridegroom’s father gives the bride ‘ornaments’ as they describe them in Hindu, these are presents for her married life.

Next is Varana the giving of the bride by her father, during the Varana the bride’s father makes an offer to the bridegroom’s father in front of everyone who is at the ceremony and the bridegroom’s father accepts the offer which is witnessed by all present who will also consent to the offer.

This tradition is followed by the Panipidana and during this tradition the bride and bridegroom hold hands, the bride’s father offers the right and of the bride to the bridegroom who has to take her hand in his right hand and then as he does that the bridegroom’s father asks that the bridegroom will promise to protect the bride and that promise is sworn to several Hindu gods including Dharma.

The final tradition is the most significant and most serious the Saptapadi it is a ritual that involves the bride and groom walking around a sacred flame or fire seven times.

This Saptapadi ritual is so important that if it is not performed the bride is not considered to be married until she has complete the seven circuits. It is also said that until the Saptapadi is enacted the marriage is not completed.

As the bride and bridegroom walk around the fire they ask that they may reach one of seven states in life.

These states are;

1. The state of Sajjatitva which is the state of good society

2. The state of Sadgrahasthatva which is the state of good household state

3. The state of Sadhutva which is the state of ascetic state

4. The state of Indratva which is the state of Indra State

5. The state of Cakravartitva which is the state of emperor state

6. The state of Jinavaratva, the state of Lord Jina which is the state of one who has conquered all enemies

7. The state of Nirvana which is the state of complete salvation

Once this has been done and before the marriage ceremony finishes it is a tradition that the husband has to make a promise that he won’t look for or engage in any “fun or frolic” with any other woman, that he won’t gamble, that he won’t frequent houses of immoral women, that he will allow his wife to visit places that he considers ‘proper’ such as temples or go on pilgrimages, that he will hold no secrets from her or reveal her secrets to anyone and that he will protect his new wife by being an honest husband and earning a living honourably.

In return the newly married bride is required by tradition to make seven promises these are that she respects her husband, serve his parents, never disobey her husband or sulk, she must not visit other men’s houses at night or mix with a crowd of men and that she must not visit the hoses of drunks or immoral people.

Often these promises are made after the six circuit of the scared fire in the Saptapadi.

One of the major differences to other cultures and of course western ones is that traditionally in some Hindu wedding ceremonies such as the Vedic sect of the Hindu religion there is no differentiation between men and women and that the reason that the couple are getting married is simple it is to have a fulfilling and happy life.

A Quick Guide to Wedding Traditions Around the World

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 throughout 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 lasting 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 hold that the threshold contained evil spirits, and that the groom was obligated 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 exchanges 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 under 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 exchanging detailed vows in a special contract, which specify both what the couple is obligated 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.