Monday, March 30, 2009

How About Some Native American Wedding Traditions?

By Neta E. Talmor

Native Americans have a culture rich in custom and tradition and their weddings are no different. Adding a few of the Native American wedding traditions, which are very beautiful, may add an element of spirituality to your ceremony.

It is customary in the Native American tradition for the hopeful groom to ask for permission to marry into the bride's family. It is customary for him to seek permission from the shaman or priest. Once permission has been given it is customary for the families to exchange food, livestock or other gifts to show their approval of the union.

In many tribes the newly wed couples resides with the family of the bride once the wedding ceremony has been performed. It is the responsibility of the new husband to provide for his in-laws and follow directions that are given by his mother-in-law. It is the custom to give the newlywed baskets of corn as gifts. The corn is a symbol of fertility.

An engaged couple of the Algonquin tribe selects four sponsors. Sponsors are older individuals who will provide wisdom and advice to the newly wed couple. In tribes that follow traditions, divorce is not an option. That is the reason for the sponsors; so they can offer advice if the couple should need it. At the wedding ceremony the sponsors make a commitment to provide and guidance to the couple throughout their lifetime.

The Native Americans of Northern California have two kinds of marriage; the full marriage and the half marriage. The full marriage will take place when the groom agrees to pay the full amount that was requested by the bride's family. If the groom pays just half of the amount that the family requested, a half marriage will take place. In a half marriage the couple will reside in the bride's family's home and lives under the authority of his father-in-law.

One traditional Native American wedding ceremony that is used is the fire ceremony. Stones and seven different kinds of wood are used to form a large circle. The wood is placed in a large pile in the center of the stone circle. On each side of the wood pile two small fires are started. One small fire represents the bride and the other one represents the groom. Following a blessing from the priest as well as friends and family the couple each slides their individual fire into the pile of wood in the center. The resulting fire symbolizes their union.

Another ceremony that is used frequently is the blanket ceremony. The bride and groom are wrapped individually in blue blankets at the onset of the ceremony. The blue blankets are used to represent the sorrows that each of them have endured separately. Once the ceremony is blessed by the priest, the blue blankets are taken off and the couple is wrapped as one in a single white blanket. This symbolizes the act of becoming one.

The seven steps wedding ceremony is also a popular ceremony in Native American culture. This ceremony begins by lighting a sacred fire. The bride and groom then take seven steps around the fire. The groom starts it off with the first step and then says a vow. The bride responds with a step and recites a vow of her own. Then the groom takes the next step and recites the next vow. It continues in this manner until all seven steps and vows have been completed. Sometimes the couple also exchanges ears of corn or stones to further show their commitment.

About the Author:

No comments:

Post a Comment