Marriage Traditions

Many cultures have different views and beliefs on marriage. Marriage symbolizes a union between two individuals that are in love and want to commit to spending the rest of their lives with each other. In some cultures wedding traditions consist of wearing certain ceremonial clothing, jewelry and reciting particular vows. Although every culture is diverse, marriage is a universal symbol of two strong unions combined to make one. Wedding traditions go back about as far as early civilization records and vary by culture. One thing that was common in early civilizations was marriages between men and women only.

Same sex marriages or even relationships were forbidden and extreme consequences such as stoned and killed were in order. Many centuries ago if an individual were to disobey and rebel against their culture, they would be made an example of and be killed. Today’s society is culturally diverse and in America everyone has a right to live their life the way they want. Whether it is opposite or same sex relationships/marriage, in America everyone has a choice. In ancient Rome, a girl was considered ready for marriage at the age of 14.

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The girl’s father would choose a husband and make all of the arrangements. There was no such thing as marrying for love. In some cases couples would have to learn to love each other after they were married. A ring on the fourth finger on a girl’s left hand symbolizes engagement. The reason for the specific finger was determined by “vena amoris” or vein of love. The fourth finger was chosen because a vein connected to the heart leads to the fourth finger. This is a very interesting fact that not many people are aware of in today’s society.

A traditional marriage in ancient Rome was the bride dressed in white that symbolized purity, wearing a veil and accompanied by a bridesmaid. These traditions are similar to many traditions we use today. Wedding superstitions were also traditional. Beliefs that the groom has to carry the bride over the threshold in their home is believed to protect the bride from evil spirits lurking below. Ancient Romans also studied pig entrails to determine the luckiest time to marry. Today’s society contains many similarities regarding wedding and marriage traditions to ancient Rome.

Gender roles in ancient Rome were similar to many other cultures in the same time frame. Women did not have any rights. They were told what to do by the husband and did not have the option to voice their opinion. Women were often looked upon as sex objects. In Ireland one of the most important wedding traditions are the style of the rings chosen. A very distinctive ring called the “Claddagh” is one of four popular character rings that symbolize faith, honor and love. Another wedding tradition in the Irish culture is “make-up” bells.

The chimes are thought to keep away evil spirits and remind a fighting couple of their wedding vows. Giving a bell, as a gift is known in the Irish tradition as well as providing guests at the reception bells to ring. Many Irish traditions on a brides wedding day is thought to avoid bad luck. Traditions such as a bride that braids her hair is believed to bring feminine power and luck and a bride is not allowed to put on her own veil, a “well-married” woman is supposed to put it on, are examples of Irish traditions that have been around for centuries.

Gender Roles in marriage within the Irish culture in the past are similar to many other cultures. The husband would work while the wife is a full-time mother and housewife. Ireland today contains many laws that prohibit the inequality of men and women’s rights in the workforce. In today’s society many women are as well respected as men. One Mexican tradition is for the female to receive a “promise” ring before receiving the engagement. The “promise” ring is typically given in long engagements. When planning the wedding, the family gets involved and helps out.

Mexican weddings typically contain many attendants or also called “madrinas and padrinos”. The flower girl and the ring bearer are dressed as a miniature bride and groom. For many special occasions including weddings, men within the Mexican culture would wear a Guayabera shirt. A Guayabera shirt is a loose fitting, crisp comfortable shirt that usually contains palm trees and other island designs. Many people are familiar with the shirts as beach or vacation attire. The bride would wear a flamenco inspired dress that has ruffles and have sewn in three colored ribbons into her lingerie for good luck.

The blue, red and yellow ribbons signifies the availability of food, money and passion for the couples future together. Gender Roles in marriage within the Mexican culture are slowly starting to change. Traditionally the wife would stay home maintaining the household and taking care of the children while the husband would work as many hours as possible just to provide for their family, Today more women are going to work and contributing to the household financially. As the years go by more wives will return to work and the traditional housewife role will somewhat be forgotten.

With Catholicism being the main religion in Mexico and divorce being a sin against God, many couples serious about their religion, do not want to commit a sin by divorcing their spouse. America today is a big “melting pot” with all different cultures and beliefs. Over the centuries with people arriving from different countries, our daily way if living is mixed with many countries beliefs. Individuals that come to America are exposed to many different foods, beliefs and clothing that they incorporate into their daily life.

Second generation individuals that were born in America are so accustom to living a certain way that they don’t even know that certain traditions were not created in America but came from another country. An example of a tradition that was not created in America is Halloween. Halloween is not just a holiday observed on October 31st when children dress up and walk house-to-house asking for candy. Halloween is a holiday that contain roots within the Celtic festival of Samhain and affiliated with the Christian holiday All Saints’ Day.

Although Italy, Ireland and Mexico may have different cultures, many characteristics are the same even in today’s society. Common characteristics between the cultures are religion, superstitions and gender roles. Many similar traits that came from the catholic religion are the brides wearing white. Dressing in white on your wedding day symbolizes purity. All cultures are diverse and have many differences but when it comes to marriage traditions and gender roles, most cultures are similar. The meaning of marriage is universal between all cultures.