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Cultural Traditions: Philippines


The Philippines is the only Asian country that is predominantly Roman Catholic due to Spanish colonization. Like Latin countries, several sets of godparents or "sponsors" play key roles in the wedding ceremony, which takes place within the liturgy of the Eucharist. After the homily, the arras, or earnest money, 13 coins blessed by a priest, is handed to the groom, who then entrusts it to the bride to shows his willingness to bestow his worldly goods on her. Veil sponsors drape a veil over the groom's shoulders and the bride's head for protection and unity. Then the cord sponsors wind a white silk cord or rosary around their shoulders to show the bond of marriage. Finally, the candle sponsors light candles to show the presence of God. Afterwards, the couple may release two doves from a cage.


Most Poles are Roman Catholic. Once a woman marries, her mother and female relatives hold a special ceremony to unbraid her hair and cover it with a czepiec, or white bonnet. (Unmarried women wear a single braid, uncovered.) Reception feasts may include roast pork, borscht, sausage and poppy seed cakes. The couple eats bread, wine and salt so that they might always have food, enjoy sweetness and overcome bitterness; they then hold silver coins to enjoy financial security. During the "Sto Lat" Toast (Polish for "100 years"), guests wish the couple a century of happiness. An elder male blesses the couple at the Zerkowiny, or handbinding ceremony, in which he joins their hands with an embroidered cloth (which becomes a wedding memento) over a loaf of bread. The festivities feature a "money dance" in which guests pin money to the bride's veil. Alternately, guests may form a circle around her and toss money into her veil, or the maid of honor collects money in her apron. Later, the bride may transfer her veil to the bridal party, who take turns wearing it in hopes of being the next to marry.


Most Portuguese celebrate Roman Catholic weddings within a Mass. The priest may cover the couple with his stole before the ceremony to protect and unite them. Or he may bind their hands with the ends of his stole while performing the wedding rites. Afterwards, guests shower bonbons on the couple.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Ricans are mostly Roman Catholic and incorporate the Spanish tradition of the arras, or 13 coins, within the ceremony. The priest hands the arras to the groom, who hands them to his bride as a symbol of entrusting her with his worldly goods. At the reception, a doll dressed to look like the bride is placed on the newlyweds' table or the wedding cake table. The doll may also have "capias" or special pins which guests then remove and use to pin money to the bride's gown as they dance with her.

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