Germany, Ghana, Greece Wedding Cultural Traditions


German traditions include: the bride saving pfennigs, or pennies, to spend on her bridal shoes; a stag night for the groom, and a Polterabaend for the bride -- a gathering at which she and her friends smash cups and dishes against the front door to frighten away evil spirits. The bride then sweeps up the mess, which brings luck to the newlyweds. The bride and groom often greet each other with candles trimmed with flowers and ribbons, symbolizing love and joy, as well as the illumination they will bring to one another. The honeymoon has its roots in ancient Germany, when it was customary to drink mead (a liquor of fermented honey and water) for a moon after a couple were wed, i.e., the "honny moon."


Wedding traditions vary among Ghana's population of mostly Muslims and Christians, however, many include the classic African "knock on the door," in which the groom's mother and uncle go to the girl's family to propose marriage for him. Other traditions of old are the brideprice, the pouring of libations to honor ancestors, and a kiss to seal the union of the bride and groom. The bride usually wears a long skirt with an ornamental white blouse, a sash around her waist, and a head wrap, while the groom wears a toga. Imported schnapps and liquors are served, and traditional dance and drumming are all part of the lively celebration.


During a Greek wedding ceremony, couples exchange wedding bands three times, and crowns made of gold or flowers are switched three times upon their heads. The crowns symbolize the nobility of marriage, and the number three represents the Holy Trinity. Greek wedding receptions are long and dramatic, dinner followed by plenty of wine and dancing. In one traditional dance, two circles are formed around the bride while everyone throws money at the musicians and breaks dishes for good luck. A kumbada, or koumbaros, usually the best man, an honored guest, is very involved in the wedding, sometimes assisting in the crowning of the couple. A Greek bride may also carry a bit of sugar in her glove to ensure that her married life will be sweet.

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