There are many things that are taught in South African wedding traditions, some of which include the exchange of wedding rings between the two partners and some of which include the naming of the bride as a gift from the groom’s family to the bride, the naming of the groom as a gift from the bride’s family to the groom and the exchange of garlands.
There are also rituals that are performed when the bride and groom get married, the most common of which is the exchanging of garlands or wreaths during the ceremony. This article looks at the extent of ritual that is practiced and whether or not it is necessary for the exchanging of rings and garlands to be part of the South African wedding traditions.
It is easy to see why the exchanging of rings and garlands is an important part of south African wedding traditions. In a country where farming and fishing remain the mainstays of livelihoods, marriage has become a necessary step to ensure that families are financially stable and there are enough mouths to feed.well-planned wedding is therefore an important investment in the future of the bride and groom’s families because it symbolizes the prosperity and security that will surely follow their union. This is why the exchange of rings and garlands are seen as essential parts of a wedding ceremony.
The differences in the ceremony in different countries
The ceremony itself is however different depending on the different countries that one comes across. In Namibia for example, the exchanging of ring is seen as a sign of good fortune while in Mozambique it is done after the exchange of garlands. The tradition of exchanging rings also differs greatly from one country to another and even from one region to another. In Cape Town the exchange of rings is seen as symbolic of the union of two lovers while in Bloemfontein the ceremony is interpreted as a symbol of commitment and love. The tradition of a Johannesburg wedding ceremony however, is the exact opposite of that found in Cape Town and is only seen in rural regions outside the city.
- There are other South African traditional rituals that are very interesting. For example, the traditional way of giving a bride’s maid a bouquet of flowers as a wedding gift is not only considered as a symbolic gesture, but is also seen as an act of patronage or respect.
- In Zulus, a traditional ritual is performed when a new bride’s maid gives her a bouquet of flowers as a sign of loyalty and affection.
- In some parts of Mozambique, the traditional way of welcoming a new bride is by having her welcomed with a big feast. A cake is decorated and given as a sign of good wishes for the happy couple’s marital bliss. It is also rumored that the cake is a symbol of the white supremacy of the Zulus, although this has not been proven.
Another interesting tradition is the exchange of wedding vows between the two partners in the wedding ceremony. A traditional south African wedding ceremony has a set of ritualistic actions that are preformed by both the male and female partners prior to the actual wedding ceremony. The bridegroom first throws the rice and coin over his partner’s head and then places a kiss on her forehead. They then each throw their right hand in front of their partners’ respective ears, where it represents a gesture of prosperity and abundance.
After exchanging their wedding vows, the couple goes into a customary drumming session. The bridegroom carries the bride’s bouquet and tosses it over his shoulder; this signifies that he will be the one to carry her throughout their married life. When the couple finally dances together, the couple is considered to be ‘mending’ their relationship and is said to be “unsealed” or sealed for life.
After this, they go back to their respective homes. The traditional African proverb “This day shall be a gift forever” means that after this, there will be no more wedding ceremonies as it is a fulfilled commitment.