Unique relationship traditions in other countries and cultures

Bijzondere relatiegewoontes in andere landen en culturen

How many cows do you want for your daughter? In the Netherlands this would be considered a joke, but in certain parts of South Africa, it’s quite normal to pay a dowry. All around the world, people practice unique relationship traditions that we could never imagine, but which are very conventional for them. Did you know that in the American state of Vermont, women have to ask their husbands’ permission before they can get dentures? Travel with us into the world of unusual relationship customs in other countries and cultures.

Public marriage announcements

Every country has its own customs, and so do different cultures. In some countries, for example, people have to announce their marriage publicly. In Greece, this has to be done in the newspaper, while in Monaco, it’s enough to write it down on a note and stick it on the door of the town hall. It has to stay on there for 10 days, including two Sundays.

Coloured rice in China

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, as the Miao minority group in south-west China knows very well. During the Sisters’ Meal Festival (a celebration comparable to Valentine’s Day), women show whether they’re interested in a man. They do this by offering a man pink, yellow, white, and blue sticky rice in a handkerchief. If they’re interested in the man, they’ll put two red chopsticks in the rice. If they’ve added cotton or parsley, the woman is expressing that she wants to get married as soon as possible. If she’s not interested in the man at all, he’ll receive rice with garlic or chili.

Relationship customs in other countries: the Amish and bundling

The Amish community doesn’t use modern technology, so Tinder is not a thing. Instead, young women meet their potential marriage partners at church. Does a man like a woman? Then he can offer her a ride in his horse and carriage. If that goes well, they’ll go “bundling”: the couple lies fully clothed in bed and spends a platonic night under the same blanket.

Meeting the parents on the first date

How long did it take you to introduce your partner to your parents? In Brazil, people do this as early as possible in the dating process – sometimes even on the first date. That way, you’ll know immediately if he’s approved or not.

White Day, Rose Day and Kiss Day in South Korea

Of course, people in Korea celebrate Valentine’s Day. But it’s not the only romantic holiday! In fact, there are 11 more celebrations dedicated to love, and most of them take place on the 14th of the month. On Rose Day, lovers give each other roses, and on White Day, the man should give his partner a present. On Silver Day, you give each other silver accessories, and on Photo Day, you take a nice picture together and put it somewhere. New Year’s Day is Diary Day: you share your calendar with each other. At least you won’t forget about all those romantic holidays!

Reading tip: National Hugging Day: what is it?

Not a diamond, but an apple

If you meet a nice Croatian man and he asks you to marry him, don’t be disappointed if instead of a diamond ring, he pulls an apple out of his jacket. Traditionally, the woman receives an apple with a coin, but nowadays, the coin may also be replaced with biscuits or sweets.

Relationship customs in other countries: one glass of wine for women

Apparently, people expect women to behave immorally when they’ve been drinking. That’s why married women in La Paz, Bolivia, are only allowed to drink one glass of wine. Men are even allowed to divorce their wives if they drink alcohol in public. The rule doesn’t apply to single women: they can drink as much as they want.

Speak now or forever hold your peace

It’s a standard phrase in romantic comedies: “Speak now or forever hold your peace.” Don’t want the love of your life to marry someone else? In the south of Australia, you’d better keep your mouth shut. If you interrupt a wedding, you can be fined AUD$10,000 or even face prison for up to two years.

Dowry for his or her family

Let’s talk about the dowries mentioned earlier. In the Hindu community, it’s a tradition for the bride’s family to offer a dowry to the groom’s family. This is seen as a thank-you for opening their home to the bride.

In South Africa, it’s the other way round. In many communities, groom’s family offers a gift to the head of the bride’s family. This is an expression of gratitude for allowing him to marry her. This is called lobolo. In both Zulu and Xhosa culture, cows are part of the lobolo. Other gifts can be blankets, cooking pots, hats, coats, scarves, and walking sticks.

In a Muslim wedding, the bride receives a Mahr from her groom. This is something of value that gives her financial independence, should the husband die or even in the event of a divorce. Oftentimes, it’s a sum of money, a piece of land, furniture, jewellery, or a house.

Dancing for love

Although it can be difficult to get Dutch men onto the dance floor, in Niger, it’s a necessity. Men have to dance for love. During the annual Gerewol Festival, the men of the Wodaabe Fula tribe dress up in colourful makeup and costumes and dance for hours in the burning sun, trying to win over a bride.

A bachelor’s ball in the outback

Speaking of unusual relationship traditions in other countries, can you imagine going to a special ball for bachelors? That’s the idea behind Bachelor and Spinster Balls in Australia. Because young people in the bush often live a secluded life, it’s not as easy to get to know a partner. By the way, the balls are less prudish than they sound: they’re known for a lot of drinking, casual sex, and dangerous stunts.

Reading tip: Kunyaza: an African squirting technique

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