Scotland: Blackening – Taking stag and hen traditions to the extreme, in parts of Scotland – usually in the Orkney Islands, Fife, Aberdeenshire and Angus – grooms and brides-to-be are subjected to a particularly grimy ritual known as ‘blackening’. Usually taking place the day before a wedding, blackening involves the bride or groom’s friends seizing the soon to be wed and covering them in a mixture of treacle, soot, feathers and flour before noisily parading them through the streets. According to the University of the Highlands and Islands in Inverness, the tradition is carried out to ward off evil spirits.
Germany: Polterabend & Baumstamm Sägen – On the eve of some German weddings, guests of the couple will gather at the house of the bride and smash pieces of crockery in a tradition known as Polterabend believed to bring good luck to the bride and groom. The couple are then required to clean up the debris to demonstrate that by working together they can overcome any challenge the face in married life. A similar tradition is that of Baumstamm sägen, in which newlyweds saw a log in half in front of their guests, again symbolizing the importance of cooperation in their marriage.
Inner Mongolia: Chick Liver – Before they can even set the date of their wedding, couples from the Daur people of China’s Inner Mongolia must observe a tradition that involves the killing of a chick. The couple take a knife and together kill and gut the baby chicken before inspecting its liver. If the chick’s liver is in a healthy condition, the couple can set a date for their wedding but if they discover that the chick’s liver is of poor quality or diseased they must repeat the process until they find a healthy liver.
Malaysia and Indonesia: Borneo’s Bathroom Ban – Members of Malaysia and Indonesia’s Tidong people in Borneo observe a tradition that states the bride and groom must not leave their home or use the bathroom for three whole days after their wedding ceremony and are kept under watchful guard and allowed only a small amount of food and drink. In Tidong culture, not observing the ritual is said to tarnish the bride and groom with bad luck often resulting in infidelity, the breakup of their marriage or the death of their children.
China: Crying Ritual – Weddings are often an emotional affair, but in certain parts of China crying is a required part of preparation for marriage. A month before their forthcoming nuptials, Tujia brides will cry for one hour each day. Ten days into the ritual, the bride is joined by her mother and ten days after that, the bride’s grandmother joins the weeping duo and eventually other female family members will join in the cacophony of crying. Termed Zuo Tang in the western Sichuan province, the ritual is said to date back to China’s Warring States era when the mother of a Zhao princess broke down in tears at her wedding.