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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Here comes the bride—pelt her!

Jan 28, 2020 10:39AM ● By Allen Smith

Ancient customs and unusual cultural traditions that celebrate love

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, the thoughts of randy young men and women naturally stray to the next logical step: marriage. Even with today’s high divorce rates, couples are still willing to take the bold plunge into holy matrimony, never really knowing what they’re getting themselves into.

But it hasn’t always been that way. Here are a few interesting ways cultures from around the world have (or had) for ensuring long-lasting love.

The Tiong from northern Borneo in Southeast Asia has an uncomfortable wedding custom that dictates that neither the bride nor the groom is allowed to use the bathroom for the three days leading up to the wedding—no urinating, defecating or bathing. It’s thought that the practice leads to a long, happy and fertile marriage.

At one time in India, custom required that the aunt of the groom teach the prospective bride everything she should know about pleasing a man both in and out of the bedroom. In the case of slow learners, aunts would often share the couple’s bed on their wedding night just to make sure the bride got everything right.

On the flip side, the best gift the father of the groom could give his son was assistance by sleeping with the bride before the wedding night.

In China’s Yugur culture, grooms shot their brides with a bow and arrow three times (arrows that didn’t harm them), then broke them off as a gesture that they will stay in love forever.

In Mauritania, Africa, young girls between ages 5 and 15 were sent to fat farms before their wedding to pile on the pounds. Having muffin tops, stretch marks, turkey necks and flabby thighs were ways of telling the world that the bride’s wealthy husband was pleased with her and wanted more to love.

In rural Scotland, guests revel in “Blackening the Bride,” an old tradition of dousing her in a stinky mixture of curdled milk, dead fish, spoiled food, tar and feathers, then parading her around town as the wedding guests beat on bowls and drums. The thought behind this tradition is if a new bride could handle this type of treatment, chances are she’d be able to handle anything that came at her later in life.

The Scottish believe that throwing trash at the wedding couple teaches them the value of persevering through hard times

In parts of France, newlyweds were forced to eat and drink the leftovers from their wedding out of a toilet bowl. Eating out of a chamber pot was thought to give them strength for their wedding night.

In the Masai culture of Kenya, new brides are selected by the families of the bride and groom. On their wedding day, the bride’s head is shaved and rubbed with lamb fat, followed by her father spitting on her head and breasts to wish the new couple luck and good fortune.

In Korea, the wedding party ties the groom’s feet together and take turns beating them with sticks and dried fish the night before the wedding. The ceremony, meant to be fun, is supposed to ensure that the groom doesn’t disappoint his new bride on their wedding night.

New couples can always count on being “blessed” in a variety of tried and true traditions ensuring they’ll be prepared to withstand good times and bad.

In America, they’re simply pelted with handfuls of uncooked white rice. In Tudor times, guests would throw their shoes at the bride and groom as they fled their wedding celebration. Anyone hit by these flying projectiles inherited good luck. The Scottish believe that throwing trash at the wedding couple (including rotten eggs and fish) teaches them the value of persevering through hard times, avoiding divorce.

So, does being pelted with fish, shoes and garbage ensure a long life together? It’s hard to tell. No one has ever written about the long-term effects of these cute customs. But like everything else, life’s in the details.

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