Early African American: Jumping the Broom. In the times of slavery in this country, African American couples were not allowed to formally marry and live together. To make a public declaration of their love and commitment, a man and woman jumped over a broom into matrimony, to the beat of drums. (The broom has long held significant meaning for the various Africans, symbolizing, the start of home- making for the newlywed couple. In Southern Africa, the day after the wedding, the bride assisted the other women in the family in sweeping the courtyard, indicating her dutiful willing ness to help her in-laws with housework till the newlyweds could move to their new home.) Some African-American couples today are choosing to include this symbolic rite in their wedding ceremony.
Armenia: Two white doves may be released to signify love and happiness. The bride may dress in red silk and may wear cardboard wings with feathers on her head. Small coins may be thrown at her.
Belgium: The bride may still embroider her name on her handkerchief, carry it on the wedding day, then frame it and keep it until the next family bride marries.
Bermuda: Islanders top their tiered wedding cakes with a tiny sapling. The newlyweds plant the tree at their home, where they can watch it grow, as their marriage grows.
Bohemia: The groom gives the bride a rosary, a prayer book, a girdle with three keys (to guard her virtue), a fur cap, and a silver wedding ring. The bride gives the groom a shirt sewn with gold thread blended with colored silks and a wedding ring. Before the ceremony, the groomsman wraps the groom in the bride‘s cloak to keep evil spirits from creeping in and dividing their two hearts.
Caribbean: A rich black cake baked with dried fruits and rum is especially popular on the islands of Barbados, Grenada and St. Lucia. The recipe, handed down from mother to daughter, is embellished by each. It is considered a "pound" cake--with the recipe calling for a pound each of flour, dark brown sugar, butter, glace cherries, raisins, prunes, currants, plus a dozen eggs and flavorings. The dried fruits are soaked in rum and kept in a crock anywhere from two weeks to six months.
Croatia: Married female relatives remove the bride‘s veil and replace it with a kerchief and apron, symbols of her new married status. She is then serenaded by all the married women. Following the wedding ceremony, those assembled walk three times around the well (symbolizing the Holy Trinity,) and throw apples into it (symbolizing fertility).
The Czech Republic: Friends would sneak into the bride‘s yard to plant a tree, then deco rate it with ribbons and painted eggshells. Legend said she would live as long as the tree. Brides in the countryside carry on the very old custom of wearing a wreath of rosemary, which symbolizes remembrance. The wreath is woven for each bride on her wedding eve by her friends as a wish for wisdom, love, and loyalty.
Egypt: Families, rather than grooms, propose to the bride. In Egypt, many marriages are arranged. The zaffa, or wedding march, is a musical procession of drums, bagpipes, horns, belly dancers, and men carrying flaming swords; it announces that the marriage is about to begin.
England: Traditionally, the village bride and her wedding party always walk together to the church. Leading the procession: a small girl strewing, blossoms along the road, so the bride‘s path through life will always be happy and laden with flowers.
Finland: Brides wear golden crowns. After the wedding, unmarried women dance in a circle around the blindfolded bride, waiting for her to place her crown on someone‘s head. It is thought that whoever she crowns will be the next to wed. The bride and groom have seats of honor at the reception. The bride holds a sieve covered with a silk shawl; when the guests slip money into the sieve, their names and the amounts given are announced to those assembled by a groomsman.
Greece: The koumbaros, traditionally the groom‘s godfather, is an honored guest who participates in the wedding ceremony. Today, the koumbaros is very often the best man, who assists in the crowning of the couple (with white or gold crown, or with crowns made of everlasting flowers, or of twigs of love and vine wrapped in silver and gold paper), and in the circling of the altar three times. Other attendants may read Scripture, hold candles, pack the crowns in a special box after the ceremony. To be sure of a "sweet life", a Greek bride may carry a lump of sugar in her glove on wedding day.
Korea: Ducks are included in the wedding procession because ducks mate for life. The groom once traveled to the bride‘s house on a white pony, bearing fidelity symbols--a gray goose and gander.
Malaysia: The groom‘s gifts to the bride are delivered to her home by costumed children in a noisy procession, carrying lavish trays of food and currency folded into animal or flower shapes. Each wedding guest is given a beautifully decorated hard-boiled egg, a symbol of fertility.
Mexico: A "lasso" a very large rosary, is wound around the couple‘s shoulders and hands during the ceremony to show the union and protection of marriage. Guests at many Mexican weddings gather around the couple in a heart-shaped ring at the reception, perhaps before the first dance.
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