Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ethnic Wedding Touches

Today, many American couples are choosing to incorporate wedding ceremony and reception traditions derived from their own ethnic roots or heritage in homage to where they have come from. It's a really neat way of incorporating the past (something old) into the passage of a new shared life together.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue

These American practices are meant to ensure a happy and lasting marriage after the actual wedding. Carrying something old and something new symbolizes a sense of continuity while the bride is making her transition to a new life. The color blue has long been associated with purity and modesty. By borrowing something from a happily married woman, it was believed her good fortune would rub off on the bride. Oh, and don't forget the penny in the shoe! It symbolizes good fortune and protection against want.

African-American Traditions

During the days of slavery when marriage was forbidden, a man and woman declared their marriage vows by jumping over a broom. This broom symbolized a threshold and the beginning of a new married life. To honor this way that African Americans consecrated their unions in the evil days of slavery, many couples are choosing to adopt the "jump the boom" tradition into their ceremonies.

Another tradition that has been revived hearkens back to the bride's African heritage. That tradition calls for the bride to wear her hair in intricate braids decorated with cowrie shells or pieces of silver, and for the couple to wear African robes in Kente or Aso-oke in colorful geometric patterns.

A third tradition in some African-American weddings today features the traditional rite of winding, plaited grass around the couples wrists to symbolize their union.

Asian-American Traditions

In Chinese traditions, the wedding color scheme includes a warm color to signify happiness. Since red is considered the color of love and joy in this tradition, the bride may wear a red wedding dress.

In Japanese traditions, the bride and her parents visit the groom's house on the wedding day. She wears a traditional ceremonial wedding kimono as her gown and may change out of it for the wedding banquet. Nine sips of sake are drunk by the bride and groom during the wedding ceremony, but they are considered married after that first sip.

Italian-American Traditions

A white silk or satin purse called a "busta," usually decorated with lace, is carried by the bride at the wedding reception to store wedding cards, wedding money holders, and envelopes bearing gifts of money. While some cultures find giving money as a wedding gift tacky or inappropriate, in the Italian tradition, monetary gifts are considered a thoughtful way to help the wedding couple be financially established.

Next time we will discuss more customs that have been adopted. Stay tuned!

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