Marriage Traditions and Customs

Topics: Marriage, Wedding, Family Pages: 7 (1692 words) Published: June 26, 2014

Marriage Traditions and Customs
Ashleigh Wilson
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Robert Moon
September 16, 2013

Every culture celebrates things differently whether it be birth, death, or marriage. In this paper I will show you the marriage rituals and practices of three different cultures: Japanese, Nigerians, and Muslims. In the end you will learn that we are not as different as we may think. What does it mean to get married or to be married? There are several definitions in the Collins English Dictionary. One of the definitions provided by the Collins English Dictionary says that marriage is “the state or relationship of being husband and wife” (Collins, n.d). While another says a marriage is the “religious or legal ceremony formalizing a union” (Collins, n.d). In the traditional sense a marriage is the commitment of two people to each other; one being a man and the other a woman. Some cultures have arranged marriages while others let married happen naturally. In most eastern cultures two people meet, fall in love, and get married, that is not the case for others. Arranged marriages are not common in western society but, many eastern countries like Japan, and India still participate in arranged marriages. An arranged marriage is usually made by the parents of the children or a matchmaker; it is always done by a third party (Wikipedia, 2013). Arranged marriages are not about forcing to people to marry, it is more of a business deal. There are three different ways an arranged marriage can happen. An arranged exogamous marriage is when someone unrelated to either family finds the bride and groom, the bride and groom do not need to be from the same social, or cultural circle. In arranged endogamous marriages a bride and groom are chosen for one another, but they must have the same or similar status and culture. Lastly, there is a consanguineous marriage. In this type of arranged marriage the bride and groom must share an ancestor, like a grandparent. Consanguineous marriages are illegal in Europe and many parts of the United States. Lately, there have been many debates and protests about same-sex marriages and whether or not they are constitutional. Many states in the United States of America have actually passed laws saying that same-sex marriages are allowed. Outside of the US there are many countries that have outlawed same-sex marriage. Japan still has arranged marriages, but since the 1930’s less than 10 percent do this (Nielson, 2010). If a marriage is arranged “portfolios are often prepared with information about the candidate and members of the family, with pertinent information and photographs. When the mother and candidate select their favorite choices, an investigation is made to verify their portfolio information” (Nielson, 2010). And if upon meeting each other if the bride and groom to be do not like each other, then there is no marriage. In Japan, there are two types of marriage ceremonies: the traditional Shinto ceremony for the more religious Japanese person, and there is a more modern westernized wedding ceremony. Most Shinto weddings are based on the wedding of Crown prince Yoshihito and Princess Sado in 1900. A traditional Shinto wedding is held in a Shinto sanctuary or shrine, which is similar to a church in eastern weddings. The bride wears a white silk kimono, not only to symbolize her purity but to show her new family she is willing to “be dyed any color to conform to her new family’s ways” (Peel, 2009). The bride also wears a wig and a silk veil or hood, her face will be painted white too. The groom wears a simple black kimono. The wedding guest list is short and only consists of family and close friends. The wedding begins with the priest doing a purification ritual that is done with a branch. He also asks the gods to bless the bride, groom, and their guests. The bride and groom then give each other three cups of a drink called sake, the sake helps seal...

References: Al-Johar, D. (2005). Muslim Marriages in America: Reflecting New Identities. Muslim World, 95(4), 557-574.
Kleven, T. J. (2013). Family Virtues in Islam and Christianity: Building Communities in Harmony. Theological Review, 34(1), 50-67.
Marriage. (n.d.) Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged. (1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003). Retrieved from
Arranged marriage. (2013, September 13). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from from
Nielson, P. (March, 2010). The History of Marriage Customs in Japan | Suite101. Suite101. Retrieved from
Peel, J. (2009, January 2). A Look at Shinto Weddings - Yahoo Voices - Yahoo Voices - Retrieved September 17, 2013, from
Hunt, M. (2013, January 21). Traditional nigerian wedding - Wedding Legend. Wedding Legend - Make your wedding day legendary – U.S. Edition. Retrieved from
Husian, Y. (1967). The Story of a Wedding in Pakistan. Asian Folk Studies, 26(1), 119-127. Retrieved September 9, 2013, from
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