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German Wedding Traditions
Most people in the United States are familiar with the customs associated with marriage in the US June is the most popular month for marriage. “Something borrowed, something blue”, “groom’s party” for the parents and the wedding party, “dowry (maybe)”, “it is unlucky to see the bride in her wedding dress before”, the father of the bride. to make that long trip down with his daughter, and men, let’s not forget the “feast of deer”!
But in Germany the favorite month for marriage is May. Traditions related to marriage in Germany are many and vary from region to region. Also, some of the younger generations are no longer able to follow the following wedding rituals.
Wedding Rings (Eheringe)
During the engagement, the bride and groom wear rings on their left hand. After marriage they wear a wedding ring on their right hand. Usually the rings are gold without diamonds.
Brautkleid (Bridal dress)
In Germany, as in the US, the bride wears “white”. But in Germany brides wear very short trains or often don’t have their wedding dress on. If veils are worn they are fingertip length and are not worn over the face as in the US Often instead of veils a floral belt with ribbons is worn. Other accessories included would be a Diadem (Tiara), a small string bag and gloves. The custom is for the bride to dress at her home or her parent’s home and then drive to the ceremony.
Brautigams Kleidung (Groom’s clothes)
The groom usually wears a black suit or a smoking jacket (dinner jacket).
Die Standesamtliche Trauung (The Wedding)
Before a church wedding the bride and groom will be married at the Standesamt (Registry Office) with the registrar who is usually at the Rathaus (town hall). Evidence is required from both the bride and the groom.
Die Kirche-Hochzeit (The Church Wedding)
Together, the bride and groom will enter the church and walk down the aisle. Because it is not allowed to have a church ceremony only, the couple will have already been married by the Standesbeamte. Unlike in the US it is not customary for there to be brides, groomsmen or flower girls.
Andere Deutsche Traditionen (Other German Traditions)
Brides usually carry salt and bread as a warning of a good harvest and the groom carries wheat for wealth and luck.
Before the wedding, the bride’s property is taken to her new home. This may include the cloths he picked up, the child he secretly put a doll in, and the marriage of the farm girl, whose parents were the second best cow.
This Bavarian tradition has an usher dressed in fancy dress decorated with ribbons and flowers going from door to door calling out in song to the invited guests. Guests accept by pressing a rib to the Hochzeitslader’s hat and offering a drink or two at each place. If the invited guests will be many and the Hochzeitslader will be natural to accept the offered drinks he will need a day or two to complete his work!
Junggesellenabschied (Bachelor Party)
A few weeks before the wedding, the groom and his male friends go to a Kneipe (pub) to have a drink and enjoy their bachelorhood for the last time.
Polterabend (wedding night)
At the party in the evening wedding plates and bowls are smashed to scare away evil spirits. Only China can be used. Anything else can cause problems. The bride and groom must clean everything. This shows that they can work together.
Hochzeit-Schuhe (wedding shoes)
Another tradition is for the bride to collect coins over the years to pay for her wedding shoes to ensure that the wedding “gets off” on the right foot. The bride’s mother puts dill and salt in her daughter’s right shoe.
Baumstamm Sagen (Log saw)
Another old Bavarian tradition takes place after the church service. As the two are leaving the Church there is a log on the sawhorse and the two have to cut the log in half! This is to compare the first difficult tasks of their future that they can accomplish together.
Fichtenzweige (Fir branches)
When the couple goes to the wedding car, fir branches are placed along the path to open their steps for the newlyweds with fresh greenery to symbolize hope, luck and fertility.
Reis Werfen (Throw of wealth)
During this ceremony, it is said that the amount of rice in the bride’s hair is the number of children the couple will have.
Wedding Soup (Hochzeitssuppe)
Hochzeitssuppe is made from beef, dumplings and vegetables and the guests eat it as if from a large bowl.
Eine Weisse Band (White Ribbon)
When the guests leave the church, the bride gives a white ribbon to every driver of a car on the road to tie the car’s radio antenna. Then the people pass through the town blowing trumpets. Some drivers along the way have honked their horns to wish the couple well.
Hochzeitstanz (Wedding dance)
The first dance is performed by the bride and groom and is traditionally a waltz. The next dance is for the bride alone with her father and the groom with his mother, while the bride’s mother dances with the groom’s father.
Brautbecher (Bridal Cup)
A traditional toast at a party in southern Germany is a special brautbecher (bride’s cup). A pewter or crystal cup is like a virgin holding a small cup above her head. Both ends of the cup (bride’s mouth and upper cup) are filled with champagne or wine and the bride and groom drink their first toast from the cup together at the same time to show their union as one. This ancient tradition dates back hundreds of years in the small town of Nuernberg.
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