Hmong Traditions – Wedding Ceremony

Traditional Hmong marriage involves elaborate preparation, a symbolic ceremony, and huge banquets. Depending upon the affluence of the families involved, the wedding can last anywhere from one to three days. Gift exchange between the two families, as well as elegant food preparation, always precedes the ceremony. A Hmong wedding ritual involves tying a length of white ribbon or string from around the wrist of the bride to around the wrist of the groom. This tying is performed by a respected elder or pair of elders who accompany themselves with chants. A young hen, rooster, and a hard-boiled egg are also a part of the ceremony as symbols for the coming together of all parts. Candles and burning incense alert the spirit world to the fact that a marriage is taking place. After the hard-boiled egg has been halved, each marriage partner eats one of the halves. Extensive toasting then takes place with the groom acknowledging each toast while trying to remain sober. When the feasting finally takes place, the bride and groom sit separately. There is no rush to finish eating; the meal can go for hours. After marriage, a bride must prove that she is able to carry out her household responsibilities, and prove her modesty and loyalty. According to tradition she is not supposed to make eye contact, have a conversation with or smile at other men during the first year of marriage.

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