6. India: Marrying an Animal
Even though it's not the most popular time of year to have a wedding, I allowed my thoughts to wander and consider the most unusual marriage rituals across the globe. The realization came that there are many fascinating cultures out there with some intriguing beliefs surrounding nuptials and marital bliss.
In the image pictured here is an Indian woman. As beautiful as the picture is, women have been known to be forced to marry animals in India. Why? In some parts of India it is believed that ghosts can inhabit certain people of the living world. Most notably, girls who are born with a baby tooth already erupted through the gum and girls who are very ugly or have some facial disfiguration are believed to be possessed by ghosts.
The only way to exorcise the ghosts is for the girl to marry an animal, typically a goat or dog. Even though there is a lavish wedding ceremony complete with booze and dancing, the girl is not expected to copulate with the animal – which is good news! She is free to marry a man later on, when the ghosts are proven to be rid from her. I wonder who makes this decision and how they come to their conclusion.
5. Greece: Nibbling a Biscuit Around a Boy's Neck
I'm not certain whether this can be defined as creepy or just inappropriate: a young Greek bride ritually celebrates her nuptials by grabbing a young, pre-pubescent boy and forcing him onto her lap. Then, she bites the biscuit ring that surrounds his neck off and finally releases him from the neck nibbling.
The bride is then whisked away by her new husband who takes her to their humble abode. The front door of this home is doused in honey and other sticky substances. The bride is expected to throw pomegranates at the door. If any of its seeds stick to the door, she is believed to bear many sons.
I've had a hard glance at my front door recently and it looks like the same thing happened to it. I can tell you from personal experience that you don't have to have sons or be Greek to have a dirty front door!
4. Korea: Carving Wooden Ducks
In Korea, it is customary for grooms to request that their successfully married friends carve them wooden ducks as a token of great marital bliss.
Hand-carving a wooden duck can't be easy. This leads me to wonder whether many of these wooden ducks are 're-gifted' along the way. Also: why a duck and not another animal?
3. Scotland: 'Blackening' the Bride
As if men wearing skirts isn't enough comical fodder, listen to this. Scottish men apparently love their women raw and dirty. This conclusion of mine comes from the fact that before a bride is to marry the love of her life, she must endure public humiliation by being "blackened".
Yes, you heard right. Anything from farm animal poop, to sticky food substances like molasses, to flour – basically, anything available – is dumped on the bride. I can only assume this gets the bride ready for the brutal reality of marriage. Either that, or Scottish men have a fetish for smelly women. Here's a video to flesh out any curiosities you may have about the blackening of the bride.
2. Mauritania: Fattening the Bride
Imagine being as young as 5 and already your parents are sending you off to a fat farm where you are forced to eat too much food until you vomit. Then, the wrinkled hag watching every portion you eat forces you to eat that vomit. This is not a reality T.V. show. This is really happening in some parts of Africa.
The practice is called Leblouh and is mandated in these parts of the world so that women will be considered attractive to their future mates. Men on this side of the globe want women fat; the fatter the better. It doesn't matter if it ruins their health or make them live shorter lives. All that matters is that the woman is as large as possible in order to sell her for a high price when she reaches the age for marrying. I wonder if the dowry depends on tonnage?
1. Malaysia: Not Going to the Bathroom
In this part of the world, it is not permitted for the groom or the bride-to-be to go to the bathroom 72 hours before the wedding. The Tidong people are so serious about the ritual that it has been going on for centuries. They actually watch their loved ones during the entire 72 hours to make sure they don't "cheat". The couple is starved and given little water.
The belief is that if the couple survives this torture, they will not only have abundant fertility, but that none of their children will die. In a way, this also makes sense because the pain of not being able to urinate or poop for 3 full days and nights is comparable to the hardships of marriage many face.
There you have it folks, some of the strangest wedding traditions I could find.