Engagement traditions vary across the world. Some cultures celebrate with alcohol and parties, while others prefer the tooth of a sperm whale. Either way, an engagement is a celebration of love and commitment between two people. It’s the start of their journey towards marriage, and people like to cherish it.
If you’re planning the perfect proposal, you could take inspiration from another country’s traditions. Let’s take a closer look at some of the engagement traditions around the world.
The UK and Ireland
In Western culture, engagements are all about pomp and circumstance. The man proposes to the woman on one knee and presents an engagement ring.
In Irish folk law, a woman can propose to a man on leap day. Leap Day is on the 29th of February and only comes around every four years. However, women propose to their significant other far more often in the modern world.
In Fiji, it is tradition for the man to ask the bride’s father for permission. However, before he can ask for permission, he must present him with a sperm whale’s tooth. It is also traditional for the man to ask permission from the bride’s father in Western cultures. In the UK, the prospective groom usually offers a pint of beer instead of a whale tooth.
In Thailand, the engagement ceremony is known as Thong Mun. The groom gibes gold to his partner’s family as part of the dowry negotiations.
After the proposal, it’s tradition for the two families to exchange nine gifts in Japan. Each gift will be wrapped in rice paper, and the ceremony is called Yinou. The gifts often include dried cuttlefish, linen thread, a folded fan and kelp. Each gift symbolises a different wish for the future.
The exchange ceremony is usually when the two families meet for the first time. It can be quite nerve-wracking for everyone involved.
In Scandinavia, both the man and woman wear engagement rings. The engagement usually lasts for three to four years before the wedding ceremony begins. The wedding ring is given during the ceremony, and a third ring is offered after the first child’s birth.
In Western culture, many new mothers are given a ‘push present’ from their significant other. Some are given rings like in Scandinavian culture, while others prefer a luxury handbag.
In the Rendille tribe in Kenya, the man will send the woman a set of beads if he wants to marry her. If the woman accepts the beads, the engagement ceremony can begin. An ornament from the family of the prospective bride will be added to the beads.
There are differences between engagement traditions across the world. But each country celebrates the love between two families uniting through marriage.
Alex Grogoyan is a Professional Home Improvement and Lifestyle Writer. He has been in the industry for over 6 years and has been writing for Chique Home Living since 2019. His work has been featured in popular platforms such as Spruce Home, Better Homes & Garden, and more.