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German Wedding Traditions
Most citizens of the United States are aware of the traditions associated with marriage June is the favorite month for marriage in the US. “Something Borrowed, Something Blue”, “Groom’s Party”, “Dowry (Maybe)” for parents and wedding party, “It’s bad luck to see the bride in her wedding dress before the ceremony”, Father of the bride with his daughter and men walking down the aisle, let’s Don’t forget the “Stag Party”!
But the preferred month for marriage in Germany is May. Traditions related to marriage in Germany are many and vary from region to region. Also, some of the younger generation will no longer observe further marriage traditions.
Ehering (wedding rings)
Both bride and groom wear rings on their left hand during marriage. 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 either wear very short trains or usually don’t have one attached to their wedding dress. If veils are worn, they are fingertip length and are usually never worn over the face, as in the US, veils are often replaced by a floral headband with ribbons. Other accessories included may be a diadem (tiara), a little drawstring purse, and gloves. It is customary for the bride to get dressed at her home or her parents’ home and then drive to the ceremony.
Brutigam’s Kliedung (Groom’s Attire)
The groom usually wears a black suit or smoking jacket (dinner jacket).
Die Standesamtliche Trauung (The Wedding)
Before a church wedding the bride and groom will be married in a standsamt (registry office) by a registrar which is often located in a rathaus (town hall). A witness is required for both the bride and the groom.
Die Kirche-Hochzeit (Church Wedding)
Together, the bride and groom will enter the church and walk down the aisle. Since it is not legal to perform a church ceremony alone, the couple may already be legally married by Standsbeamte. In the US it is not customary to have bridesmaids, groomsmen or flower girls.
Andere Deutsche Traditionen (Other German Traditions)
Brides usually carry salt and bread for a good harvest, and grooms carry grain for wealth and luck.
Before marriage, the bride’s wealth is taken to her new home. These may include the linen she collects, a cradle in which a doll is secretly placed, and, for a farm girl’s wedding, her parents’ second best cow.
This Bavarian tradition has formal invitees dressed in fancy dress decorated with ribbons and flowers and handing out personalized rhymed invitations to invited guests. Hochzeitslader welcomes guests by pinning a ribbon to the hat and offering a drink or two at each stop. Should the invited guests be many, and should the Hochzeitsleder have the disposition to accept the offered drink, it would take him a day or two to complete his duty!
Junggesellschaftscheid (bachelor party)
A few weeks before the wedding, the groom and his male friends go to a knipe (pub) to drink and enjoy one last time as bachelors.
Poltebend (Wedding Eve)
On the evening before the wedding, plates and utensils are smashed at the party to scare off the evil spirits. Only China can be used. Anything else will bring bad luck. The bride and groom have to clean everything. This is to indicate that they can work together.
Hochzeit-Schuhe (Wedding Shoes)
Another tradition involves the bride collecting pennies over the years to pay for her wedding shoes to ensure the wedding “gets off” on the right foot. The bride’s mother puts some fennel and salt in her daughter’s right shoe.
Baumstam segen (log sawing)
Another old Bavarian tradition comes immediately after the church ceremony. When the couple leaves the church there is a log on the saw and the couple has to cut the log in half! It symbolizes the first difficult tasks in their future that they can accomplish together.
Fichtenzweige (Fir boughs)
As the couple makes their way to the wedding carriage, tiles are laid along the path to pave their first newlywed steps with fresh greenery symbolizing hope, luck and fertility.
Race Werfen (Rich Throwing)
This tradition states that the amount of rice in the bride’s hair will determine how many children the couple will have.
Hochzeitssuppe (Wedding Soup)
Hochzeitssuppe is made with beef, dumplings and vegetables and guests eat from a large bowl.
Eine Weisse Band (A White Ribbon)
As the guests leave the church, the bride gives each driver of the car in the procession a white ribbon to tie to the car’s radio antenna. The procession then moves through the city blowing horns. Other motorists on the route honk their horns to congratulate the newlyweds on their wedding.
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 only with her father and the groom with his mother, while the bride’s mother dances with the groom’s father.
Brautbacher (bride’s cup)
A typical toast at receptions in southern Germany is accompanied by a special Brautbecher (bride’s cup). A pewter or crystal cup represents a girl with a small cup on her head. Both ends of the cup (the bride’s skirt and the upper cup) are filled with champagne or wine, and the bride and groom drink their first toast together from this cup, symbolizing their union at the same time. This old tradition has been around for centuries in the small town of Nuremberg.
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