Wedding Drinking Traditions from Around the World
Learn about other cultures’ drinking-related nuptial traditions
Summer is upon us, and with the lovely weather spreading across (most of) North America comes wedding season. Here in the U.S., we have our own wedding customs: there’s the white dress, the father-daughter dance, the exchanging of vows and, of course, the throwing of uncooked rice at the newlyweds.
But we’re not the only country with traditions on the big day. Plenty of other places have their own versions of something borrowed, something blue. For example, months before some weddings, the Duar people of Inner Mongolia cut open a baby chick and examine its liver. Finding a quality chick liver means it’s time to set a wedding date.
In Russia, grooms jokingly pay a ransom for their brides, often in the form of dances or sometimes jewelry. And, in Indonesia, engaged couples in the Tidong community are prevented from using the bathroom for three days in order to bring luck to the union.
Maybe you’re not interested in adopting any of these customs just yet, but what about the ones that involve a drink? Many Americans spring for an open bar, and some even have their own specially-designed drink, but how about gulping down the tears of the bride or knocking back a cocktail next to a donkey?
Or what about sipping champagne from a shoe or a toilet? Depending on where you are in the world, the drinking customs at various weddings might seem more than a little foreign. Here’s a guide to get you through some wedding customs you might run into in a other countries.
But, just as not every American wedding features bridesmaids or bouquet tosses, don’t expect to see these traditions represented at the wedding you attend.
In Germany, the night before the wedding, groomsmen will abduct the bride-to-be and take her to a local bar. In order to get his bride back, the groom first has to find her and, of course, buy the group a round of drinks. At the actual wedding, some couples may choose to drink a toast from a traditional Nuernberg Bridal Cup.
It is customary at some weddings in China for a red string (representing good fortune) to be tied around a goblet, which is then filled with wine (and sometimes honey). Then again, if you hear Ganbei (which means “empty cup”), you and the rest of the wedding guests may be expected to down whatever’s in your glass.
Sophie Rosenblum is a native New Yorker with a passion for Texas. Her writing on food and travel has appeared in Spoon Magazine and the Houston Press. She will eat anything, but she especially loves finding innovative vegetarian restaurants while traveling with her husband.
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