by Bridget McAllister
Mehndi Ceremony (India)
In Hindu wedding tradition, Indian brides are prepared for their big day with the ceremonial application of henna. Typically at the bride’s house and often just a few days before the wedding (or on the eve), the henna paste is applied in intricate designs on her hands, feet, arms, and legs. Some women even leave their mendhi patterns wrapped for hours—or overnight—to create a more intense color, and the design can sometimes last for weeks.
White Hood (Japan)
In very traditional Shinto weddings, brides signify their purity and virginity not only by dressing white from head to toe, but sometimes by painting their faces white to match. They also show their humility and obedience—as well as submission to their new in-laws—by wearing large, white hoods (called “wataboshi”). In some folkloric tellings, the wataboshi serves to conceal the bride’s figurative “horns” of anger of jealous toward her mother-in-law, while in others it’s said to contain evil spirits which may infest her hair.
Bridal Tree (Czech Republic)
Czech weddings are steeped in blessings for the future. The superstitions begin by planting a tree in the new couple’s yard and decorating it with colorful ribbons and trimmings. After all, it’s said the tree’s lifespan will be the same as the wife’s. The couple’s families also often rest a baby on the couple’s bed, believing the child’s presence will bless their fertility.
Musical Crown (Norway)
Very traditional Norwegian brides will wear an ornate silver or gold crown on her wedding day. It is typically adorned with bangles or bells. In Norwegian folklore, it’s believed that the tinkling sounds produced by the crown when she walks or moves helps to ward evil spirits away from the wedding.
Perfect Timing (China)
Old Chinese wedding tradition places heavy emphasis on the spiritual role of dates, times, and prophecy. A prospective bride and groom may have the exact dates and hours of their births shared and compared. Incidentally, families often consult an almanac to see if they are compatible. This was always done through the aid of a fortune teller. The families or couple themselves never tried to divine the compatibility of the match themselves.