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Cultural Traditions: Holland


A lovely old Dutch custom holds that before the wedding day, guests would visit the bride's house where they would eat bruid suikas, a traditional sweetmeat, accompanied by spiced wine. The door of the bride's house was painted green, and wedding guests scattered flowers all around it before the couple left for town hall to be married in a civil ceremony. After the ceremony, the bride and groom would sit under a canopy of fragrant evergreens (signifying everlasting love) where they received warm wishes and wedding gifts from friends. A large silver bowl filled with brandy and raisins was often passed around as a song was sung, beginning with the phrase "How sweet it is where friendship dwells…"


Hungarian wedding traditions begin with big speeches, especially in the case of the Best Man. He is expected to give an emotional speech when the bride officially leaves her parents' home, and then another at the reception, blessing the new wife of his friend. After this, the bride kisses him and takes him for the first dance. The bride traditionally wears an ornate headdress and often the colorful costume native to the country. The wedding procession of old was always made via carriage, and is a lovely tradition many still hold dear. A huge party ensues, as Hungarians love to celebrate, and the wedding festivities sometimes last for several days.


Though India is a large country with various regional customs, most are Hindu ceremonies. Several days before the ceremony, a bride is decorated with mehndi, or henna designs on her hands and feet. On the wedding day, brides wear red silk saris nine yards long, plus numerous gold bracelets, anklets and rings (which were once part of her dowry). Many grooms wear a dhoti, or long piece of cloth wrapped into pants. Male relatives and friends may carry the bride on a platform to meet her groom beneath a canopy or tent. She may apply sandalwood paste to the groom's forehead while he applies sindhur, or red powder, to hers. The couple is married before a small fire-lit vessel, which represents Agni, the god of fire or "radiant one." They make offerings by throwing puffed rice and ghee (clarified butter) into it throughout. Led by the priest, the couple declares their vows, and walks around the sacred fire seven times (sapta-padi, or seven steps). The ends of their clothing may be tied together to symbolize their union. The bride's parents then present gifts to the groom (e.g., red rice and betel plant). The groom then places a floral garland around his bride and a tali, or jewel set in gold suspended on a yellow thread, around her neck to symbolize her married status. At the end of the ceremony, the bride's brother or closest male relative showers the couple with jasmine flowers or rose petals for good luck.

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