Feature: Marriages

Marriages inspire odd traditions the world over

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WEDDING BREAD: Ukraine weddings feature bread called Korovai, a sacred bread that may include images representing the joining together of the two families.

Shutterstock.com/Andrey Kozachenko

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Did guests throw rice on your wedding day? Almost all cultures shower the bride and groom with symbolic food to grant luck and fertility to newlyweds. It's just one of the many odd traditions weddings inspire around the globe.

Rowdy behavior

While Americans toss rice, Sicilians fling wheat bread and the English throw cake to ensure fertility. Greeks used to pitch seed-bearing plants, but today they toss almond candy, rice and dates.

Wedding couples aren't always bombarded with food, though. In Ireland, flower petals are thrown, and in gypsy culture, almond blossoms are tossed for good luck.

Many other wedding customs are also said to bring luck. In Australia, the bride sometimes carries a horseshoe - not an actual metal plate (thankfully for her), but a crocheted horseshoe that's tied onto a long ribbon and worn upside down over her arm.

In Germany, a wedding eve party tradition is to break dishes for good luck. Couples in the Ukraine have a similar tradition, called Vatana. At the reception, dishes are broken with silver dollars - ensuring prosperity for the couple. Greeks also follow tradition when they break glasses on their wedding night to ensure a long life as man and wife.

In England, some brides take the tradition even further when they take a plate with cake on it and drop it from the top of their house.

Something sweet

No wedding is complete without a tasty dessert. In Roman times, a thin loaf was broken over the bride's head at the end of the ceremony to ensure fertility. During the Middle Ages, the couple would kiss over a small cluster of cakes. That changed when a clever baker decided to put the small cakes together, and the modern tiered wedding cake was invented.

Each culture has its own cake traditions. Ukraine weddings feature bread called Korovai instead of cake. This sacred bread is decorated with images, which may represent two families joining together.

Ukrainians aren't the only ones to celebrate weddings with bread. Brudlaupskling, a bread topped with a mixture of syrup, cream and cheese, is enjoyed at Norwegian nuptials.

Couples in Morocco drink sweetened milk and eat a date on their special day - ensuring they will share in the sweetness of life.

Because red and white are considered a happy color combination in Japan, foods are colored to bring joy to wedding celebrations there.

No matter what culture you embrace, a wedding day is one of the happiest events of any couple's lives. Next time you attend a wedding, watch for wacky wedding customs - you may want to adopt them when someone ties the knot in your own family.