Wedding Traditions

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finnfi
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Wedding Traditions

Post by finnfi » Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:16 pm

My Finnish fiance and I are getting married in just under ten days. :D We've lived in Japan for the last 5 years, but have this month (4 days ago... :shock: )relocated to New Zealand. Life is rather hectic at the moment! We are putting the final touches on the wedding preparation and are trying to put together a card with some "interesting facts about Finnish weddings" for our Japanese and New Zealand guests. My fiance (lucky him) is currently playing tour guide/tourist round the South Island of NZ with his parents and I am trying to tie up all the loose ends. My problem is this -I know very little about Finnish weddings and traditions and he has very limited communication at the moment, -so it is up to me. I've scoured the internet and have found some articles talking about very old traditions, but less about modern day Finnish weddings.

Can anyone suggest anything that might interest our guests, or that is particular to Finnish weddings?

Any help would be very much appreciated! :thumbsup:



Wedding Traditions

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EP
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Re: Wedding Traditions

Post by EP » Wed Feb 18, 2009 7:34 pm

Somebody at the university of Tampere has compared American and Finnish wedding traditions. I will copy the wedding reception part, so you can pick the Finnish ways from there. At least you could have ”the robbery of the bride”. I saw a wedding program on TV where a Finnish guy and a Chinese girl got married. It was priceless to see the Chinese relatives faces when masked big men came and ”robbed” the bride. They thought is was real!:


In both countries, it is common for people to give speeches and to toast the happy couple during or after the wedding meal. These speeches are usually delivered by people close to the couple, such as their immediate family and close friends. Although Otnes and Pleck argue that in the U.S. a woman giving a speech at a wedding would be considered inappropriate and aggressive, in Finland it would not be unusual for the bride to give a speech, or even her attendant(s) or her mother, or other female members of the family. While these are not 'standard' in Finnish weddings, if the ladies choose to give speeches they would have equal status to the speeches given by men. In the U.S., there is the additional custom of clinking the glasses to prompt the couple to kiss.



The wedding cake is equally important in both Finnish and American cultures. The couple first cutting the cake is one of the highlight photo opportunities of the day, and having the couple feed the cake to each other is a symbolic ritual of nurturing and caring. However, the idea of a traditional American "white frosted cake" is not very popular in Finland. Perhaps this is partly because sugar and almond icing is not often used in cake decoration in Finland. Instead, whipped cream and fresh fruit or berries (such as strawberries or raspberries) are favored.

An American phenomenon that practically never happens in Finland is that of the newlyweds pushing wedding cake into each others' faces. Presumably this does not happen in the U.S. either as often as one might think from the "America's Funniest Home Videos" TV shows... However, this is something that would never even enter the mind of Finnish brides and grooms; it would be considered a horrible faux pas, should someone actually venture to do it.

Reception Fun and Games

While an American wedding reception largely consists of enjoying the wedding feast, listening to a few speeches and dancing later on, Finnish weddings often include wedding games. While these are not universally loved even in Finland, many weddings have at least one game. These games may be akin to those played by children, such as musical chairs, or they may include a quiz about the happy couple's life. Usually the theme of love and marriage is present; an alternative motive is to collect money. An example of money-collecting games was described by an internet message board member: guests were asked to throw coins at a prize (e.g. a champagne bottle) like playing with marbles; the one who got his or her coin closest won the prize. The coins went to the bride and groom to help cover the costs of the wedding.

A more traditional game that often causes alarm in non-Finnish wedding guests is called the "stealing of the bride" (morsiamenryöstö). In effect, the best man and his trusted men suddenly grab the bride at an unexpected moment and carry her out of sight. The groom then has to finish a set task, such as singing a song, writing a poem to the bride, or collecting money from the guests in the bride's shoe. Once he has successfully completed the task, the bride is returned unharmed, although sometimes slightly tipsy. Modern variations of this game include the stealing of the groom/mothers-in-law/fathers-in-law instead. The stealing of the bride is planned and implemented by the bride and groom's attendants, and usually comes as a surprise to the bridal couple.

Music and Dancing at the Reception

Along with food, music is also culture-specific. While dancing, in one way or another, is something that most human beings share instinctively, the kind of music used and the spontaneity/choreography of the dancing varies considerably from one culture to the next. Some form of dancing is common in many Finnish and American celebrations, perhaps particularly at weddings. This may be due to the "couply" atmosphere of the event. Some people do not consider a wedding without dancing a proper wedding; indeed, it is often only the extremely religious that choose not to dance at weddings.

In Finland, the most important dance is the bridal waltz. Indeed, it is virtually always a waltz, usually played by a live band. No guests may join in on the couple's first dance as husband and wife. The second dance is often reserved for the bride's parents, the bride dancing with her father and the groom with the bride's mother. The third dance is the groom's parents, and so on. From the second dance onwards, guests may join in. Only waltz music is usually played until all "turns" with the couple's immediate family have been taken.

Although the bridal waltz is not unheard of in the United States, it has largely been replaced by what is simply called the First Dance, be it to any sort of music. Usually a slow song is chosen, although it can also be salsa or rock'n roll! Judging by the American internet message boards, the idea of a wedding waltz seems to carry connotations of a conservative tradition.

In the U.S., hiring a DJ for a wedding reception is not uncommon, but this would be regarded as rather unusual in Finland, regardless of the kind of music he or she plays. In addition to waltzes, more contemporary music is usually also played at Finnish weddings. However, instead of playing CD's, it is more common to have a live band perform cover versions of evergreens and dance music. Sometimes the music gets more and more contemporary as the evening wears on and the older people go home!


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Cory
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Re: Wedding Traditions

Post by Cory » Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:00 pm

Another thing that you may or may not want to add to your list is that many men tuck a small bottle of Jaloviini (or something similar) into their coat pockets to be sipped when they slip outside during the meal and dancing...groom will most often be offered more than a few swigs on the various bottles being passed around!
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Re: Wedding Traditions

Post by Upphew » Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:29 pm

Cory wrote:Another thing that you may or may not want to add to your list is that many men tuck a small bottle of Jaloviini (or something similar) into their coat pockets to be sipped when they slip outside during the meal and dancing...groom will most often be offered more than a few swigs on the various bottles being passed around!


Jaloviina aka Jallu is spirit made from Cognac and grain spirit. So basically poor mans cognac, that is easier to drink than real thing.
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Iseult
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Re: Wedding Traditions

Post by Iseult » Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:58 pm

Dear oh dear, had I known that my measly study on Finnish and American wedding traditions was going to be the highlight of my academic career publicity-wise, I would have spent more time polishing it...
Seriously, a stranger messaged me on Facebook saying "OMG, are you the person who wrote that study on Finnish and American weddings?!?!"

:roll:

EP, it would've been nice to actually be mentioned as the author of the text ("somebody at the University of Tampere" doesn't quite cut it...). :wink:
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Pursuivant
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Re: Wedding Traditions

Post by Pursuivant » Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:08 pm

The couple first cutting the cake

So do the Americans stomp the foot to see who is the boss?

Also what about "decorating the bridal bed" traditions? Do the americans do the pranks... hide alarm bells, put a pair of slippers and a kaulin under the pillows (again to determine "who is the boss") etc?

Does the priest have the wits to leave so that the partying can start?
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Something wicked this way comes."


EP
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Re: Wedding Traditions

Post by EP » Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:27 pm

EP, it would've been nice to actually be mentioned as the author of the text ("somebody at the University of Tampere" doesn't quite cut it...)


Sorry, you are right, and I apologize. I just did a quick search "Finnish wedding traditions" and that came up just about on the top of it. I just quickly copied, shut the google window, and pasted it here. It crossed my mind, but I just didn´t bother to go back. BUT I remember that you were in the translation department. My guess is that it is the old "kieli-instituutti"? I studied there for full two weeks as a class mate of Juice Leskinen. Then I realized that it is not for me.


Iseult
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Re: Wedding Traditions

Post by Iseult » Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:41 pm

^Not to worry. :) Actually I was a visiting attraction only at the translation department - normally I busied myself with English Philology (a.k.a. The Other Side). A student only, at that. Since then, I have moved on to the greener pastures that is the University of Helsinki's Master's program in language technology. Ironically, I now support myself as a translator, which is not what us philologists are supposed to be doing at all... Especially not the philologists who now code in Python.
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Nukkepöksy
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Re: Wedding Traditions

Post by Nukkepöksy » Wed Mar 11, 2009 5:23 am

Pursuivant wrote:
The couple first cutting the cake

So do the Americans stomp the foot to see who is the boss?

Also what about "decorating the bridal bed" traditions? Do the americans do the pranks... hide alarm bells, put a pair of slippers and a kaulin under the pillows (again to determine "who is the boss") etc?

Does the priest have the wits to leave so that the partying can start?


Can you explain how these games work a little more? I saw them at my cousin's wedding in Finland, and I'd like to incorporate some of them into my wedding. they were cute :P
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Paul_D
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Re: Wedding Traditions

Post by Paul_D » Wed Mar 11, 2009 5:02 pm

Pursuivant wrote:[The couple first cutting the cake] So do the Americans stomp the foot to see who is the boss?

I had heard about this tradition before my wedding, but I did not know exactly when one was supposed to stomp the foot.

I knew my wife would be trying to do it, for sending a visual signal to her Finnish friends that she's the boss. But I had decided not to let my wife pretend that, so, it went like this:
- We stand by the cake, and get the knife for cutting the cake.
- Then "booom", I stomp the foot, much to the surprise of my wife.
- "Cheeese", a few photos taken, while we are about to cut the cake, and while we get the first piece.
- Meanwhile we cut, my wife whispered to me that I stomped the floor too early. "Booom", I stomp it again, and ask: "was is it supposed to be done now? Yes, she said. Well fine, I just did it, so now it counted. And I won, so now you see I am the boss" :mrgreen:

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llewellyn
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Re: Wedding Traditions

Post by llewellyn » Thu Mar 12, 2009 6:47 am

There are of course various traditions in Finland. Coming from a Pietist family we would absolutely not have any alcohol or dancing... My mother's wedding dress was black as white would have been too "wordly". And there would be many hymns and several religious speeches. Feel free to adopt these customs! (These days - as Pietism has relaxed and liberalized quite a bit - things would be less plain though.)


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Nukkepöksy
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Re: Wedding Traditions

Post by Nukkepöksy » Thu Mar 12, 2009 10:12 am

Thanks for the explanation, Paul! Your story jogged my memory! The couple must stomp their foot the moment the knife touches the bottom of the cake plate.

Hi, Llewellyn!
Coincidentally, the only Finnish wedding I ever attended in Finland was that of my third cousin. All my cousins are pietist, it seems. It was a sweet wedding that took place in the afternoon, so I didn't even notice there wasn't any alcohol. I did miss the dancing, though.


Finnfi-- you must be married by now! How did the festivities go??? It's a fun coincidence that you'd been living in Japan just before this--I'm there now with my fiancé!
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CH
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Re: Wedding Traditions

Post by CH » Thu Mar 12, 2009 11:02 am

The stomping on the foot isn't (or at least wasn't) really a tradition from the area I'm from, but there was the "the one who has the hand on top when cutting the cake" being the boss in marriage.


Tiwaz
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Re: Wedding Traditions

Post by Tiwaz » Mon Jan 31, 2011 9:22 am

mimiyu wrote:CH, what does stomping of the foot means?
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Essentially, when couple makes the first cut into wedding cake... At the moment that cut is finished (knife or whatever utensil is used touches the plate) groom and bride stomp the floor with their foot. One who is faster, is the boss in the house.

Or alternatively, you go for CH idea of who has hand on top. Though that is less of issue of reflexes and more of who bothers to bicker longer. :P

Oh yes, I recall it being tradition orginally(or at least in some circles) to try to stomp the foot of the significant other, but floor is bit safer option.


Tiwaz
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Re: Wedding Traditions

Post by Tiwaz » Sat Aug 13, 2011 8:47 pm

You could say that religion is not very strong in Finnish lifestyle anymore.
People go through the moves, baptism, weddings, funerals etc. And are members of church.
And never bother to do more than that.

Might actually be worth noting to for example Americans were there to be Finnish/American wedding. Because speeches, if performed in English, by Finns will be totally void of references to big skyguy. And plentiful use of letters G O D together might receive bit baffled looks from Finns.

By the way, Finnish Orthodoxes prefer to be known just as Orthodox. Not Russian Orthodox. Specially notable because Finnish Orthodox church is NOT part of Russian Orthodox church, but is part of diocese of Constantinopole with authonomy.


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