Valentine’s Day is fast approaching – the time of year when we treat our sweethearts to chocolate, flowers and other treats in order to show them how much we love them. These Valentine’s Day traditions are typical for our culture, but what about love and romance in different parts of the world? What are some of the romantic traditions of courtship in other countries? Let’s take a look at some strange love traditions from all around the globe.
Of course, “strange” is a relative term. What is strange to one culture is completely normal to another culture. So, keep in mind as you read these that someone from another country would certainly find our wedding, dating and romance traditions quite strange.
The Blackening of the Bride, Scotland
The “Blackening” of the Bride (and often the groom too) is a tradition that is still practised in small villages and rural areas of Scotland. The ritual is normally carried out on the day before the wedding and it goes all the way back to medieval times. The bride and groom are “captured” by their loved ones and then covered in all sorts of gross things including rotten eggs, fish and treacle. Then they have flour and feathers dumped all over them, which sticks to the treacle.
They are then paraded through the streets or driven around on the back of a truck so that everyone can see them in their messy state. Then, they may be tied to a lamp post or dumped in the (shallow) sea. It is believed that this tradition prepares the married couple for their life together and it also helps to ward off evil spirits.
The Romance of a Chicken Liver, China
The ancient ethnic Daur people of China have a tradition where an engaged couple dissects a chicken and inspects the liver. If the liver is healthy and is good shape then this is seen as a sign that the relationship will be successful.
Once they have found the healthy liver, the couple can set a date for their wedding. If the liver is unhealthy, the couple need to wait on marriage and try again on another chicken later. When a marriage date is set, the couple will have a feast with their families to celebrate.
Give the Girl You Fancy a Lovespoon, Wales
In this sweet tradition that dates back for many years, the guy would present the girl of his dreams with an intricately carved wooden spoon. The spoon represents that he would always feed and provide for her.
Also, it was a way of showing off his woodworking skills as these spoons are very detailed and have a lot of complex motifs carved into them. This tradition dates back to the 17th century and the earliest Welsh love spoon is from 1667 and is on display at a museum in Cardiff.
If she does not feel the same way for him, she would return the spoon (awkward!). however , if she likes him then she would wear the spoon around her neck as a symbol of their relationship. The images that are carved into the spoon have specific meanings – bells represent marriage, horseshoes mean luck, etc.
Eat Salty Bread to See Your Future Lover, Armenia
In Armenia it is believed that if you are single and you chow down on a piece of salty bread you will have a dream about your future partner. The bread has to be baked by your grandmother or a middle aged woman who is happily married.
It should be eaten on the eve of St. Sargis Day and you should fast all day before eating the salt bread. After not eating all day and then eating salt bread before you sleep, you’ll be very thirsty. Tradition says that your future husband or wife will offer you water in your dream. The water in the dream also has significance – if it is clear the relationship will be honest but if it is muddy there will be problems with cheating.
These are just a few of the strange and fascinating love and romance traditions from all over the world. What other wedding, dating and romance traditions around the globe have you heard about? Let us know in the comments below!