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They say that love makes the world go around. And like any loveable translation services agency that knows about local customs, we’ve explored romantic traditions around the globe. But prepare to be shocked, because we’ve found some weird and wonderful goings on.
For example, how would you like to celebrate your love by drinking out of a toilet bowl in France? Or by getting spat on by your family in Kenya? Or holding a champagne photo shoot in a Russian graveyard? Exactly.
But let’s not be hypocritical here in the UK. The story behind St Valentine’s Day isn’t exactly squeaky clean. It’s shrouded in murder, mystery and animal sacrifice. So, in honour of St Valentine’s Day, let’s dip into…
1.China: bridesmaids block groom, demand money
You’ve got to feel sorry for the Chinese groom. As if it’s not stressful enough, when he arrives to collect his bride, the poor groom is met by a battalion of bridesmaids. They block his way, demanding that he proves his worth in cash and the completion of several physical tasks. Only then can he see his bride.
2. Croatia: The Museum of Broken Relationships
Two ex-lovers set up The Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, Croatia, where people from around the world can now exhibit mementos left behind by their previous loves. The collection includes underwear, sordid written confessions and even an axe, which one woman used to chop up her former lover’s furniture after she was left for another woman. They call the axe a “therapy item”.
A second museum has since opened in York, England, by the way…
3. Finland: Wife-Carrying Championship
In 2019, 80 couples will compete in Sonkajarvi’s traditional Wife-Carrying Championship. First around the obstacle course wins the wife’s weight in beer. This tradition harks back to the 1800s, when Rosvo-Ronkainen, a local Finnish brigand, would only allow men to join his troops if they had proven their strength on a challenging track. At the time, it was still common practice to steal women from neighbouring villages…
4. France: drinking wedding leftovers from the toilet bowl
As you can imagine, where this tradition continues it is only using a replica toilet bowl to drink champagne. However, in earlier times, it was apparently customary for newlyweds in France to be forced to drink the wedding party leftovers out of an actual toilet bowl.
5. Greece: guests pin cash onto bride and groom
While it might sting your guests’ purses, this is one of the least painful, ongoing wedding traditions. Yes, it’s the Big Money Greek Wedding when, during the couple’s first dance, guests pin money to the bride and groom, creating streams of cash as they swirl around the dancefloor. Just watch those pins – ouch!
6. India: select your husband or wife on Shagun TV
Against the set of a wedding backdrop and hosted by a glamorous shiny celebrity, prospective brides or grooms can do a spot of teleshopping on Shagun TV to find their perfect partner, wedding jewelry and honeymoon destinations. They can also check out their horoscopes as well as learn how to get along with their future in-laws. Well, if you’re going to monetise marriage, why not go big?! Ahem.
7. India: first, marry this tree
Another one from India. According to the India Times, people who are born as Mangliks – when Mars and Saturn are both under the seventh house – are cursed. To break the curse and avoid causing their spouse an early death, they must first be married to a tree and then the tree cut down. Goes without saying, really.
8. Kenya: a good luck spit on the head from Daddy
At the wedding ceremony held by the Massai people, the bride’s head is shaved and coated with lamb fat. The father then wishes his daughter good luck and fortune by spitting on her head and breasts. She then leaves with her husband without looking back for fear of turning into stone.
9. Russia: married at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Another tradition that continues to this day, in Russia it is common for a wedding party to sup champagne and take photos as they lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Kremlin Wall, Alexander Garden, Moscow. It is not unheard of for couples to conduct their wedding ceremony by the graveside.
We hope you enjoyed this weird and wonderful blog about local “romantic” traditions. If you’re interested in finding out more about localisation for translation services, check out this blog: The Art of Localisation.