How Palestinians are keeping Heritage Alive with Traditional Palestinian Weddings

In every Palestinian wedding, no matter what, two traditions always remain prominent: importance of family and strong emphasis of hospitality.

Each country follows certain marriage customs and traditions that distinguish it from others. Palestinians adhere to their customs and traditions strictly unlike some countries wherein there’s flexibility. Palestinian weddings have  special customs.

Any wedding is incomplete without family, friends and loved ones as it occurs only once in a lifetime. Palestine marriage has several stages, right from choosing the bride. At times the mother can take the responsibility of this task, however, if the groom wishes for any particular girl, he can convey the feelings to his mother. The groom’s mother then requests the bride’s family to fix a date to connect with the bride’s father for discussing the proposed marriage which entails the future ties between the two families. The formal meeting involves detailed talks on dowry, house ownership, wedding party and more.

There is a special custom in which the groom’s family goes to see the bride; the bride offers coffee mixed with salt to the groom’s family. If the groom drinks it, they consider the relationship affirmative.

Unlike Indian traditions, here the dowry is given to the bride and all the arrangements are to be done by the groom’s family unless the bride wants to help the groom.

After the approval of both families, they go to the Sharia court to arrange a marriage contract with the bride’s consent before tying the knot, for assurance. This is followed in Islam; Christians on the other hand go to the church.

The marital nest is prepared during the engagement period and renovated with beautiful furniture. The bride prepares herself, from arranging clothes to gold. The wedding date is determined by the spouses wherein they fix a time for reserving the wedding hall, distribution of invitation cards, shopping wedding attires for the bride and groom and booking the bride’s hairdresser.

Prior to the big day, the groom arranges a special party for his male friends, with access to private theatre and live folk music, while the dinner is a Palestinian traditional dish known as Samakia. The groom’s mother has a ritual to perform; she offers a dish full of flowers and candles, and draws henna (Mehendi) on the hand of her son. As for the bride, she arranges a henna party with her girlfriends and other women. It is similar to the Indian Mehendi ceremony in which the bride’s hands and feet are decorated with henna, indicating the bond between the bride and her future husband. The ceremony takes place in her home; friends, family, relatives and others from the neighbourhood dance, sing, and indulge in Samakia.

Groom’s bachelor party before the wedding is known as Zafaa in Palestine.

During the ceremony, the bride’s family sends her clothes and other useful things to her husband’s home through her mother.

On the morning of the wedding day, sheep are slaughtered by the groom’s family and people are invited over for lunch and then they decorate the wedding cars.

In the party, the bride wears a unique white dress paired with high heel footwear and for makeover she goes to a beauty salon. The groom on the other hand wears a formal uniform; most of the time it is black suit with a white t-shirt and a shining necktie. The groom then goes to pick the bride from the salon, takes to her family’s house to bid farewell and then to the wedding hall by car. Cakes and a special traditional sweet — Kunafa or Baklava — are served to the guests.

The bride’s family offers the bride with money and gold like rings and necklaces as a gift. After the day of marriage, specifically the next morning, the bride’s family goes to the spouse’s home to congratulate them.

The event is marked by music and dance with family, friends, cousins and loved ones. The moments are captured in photos to show their children.

In every Palestinian wedding, no matter what, two traditions always remain prominent – importance of family and strong emphasis of hospitality.


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