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Who started these African wedding traditions?

Black History Quiz
Who started these African wedding traditions?
By Jim Stroud • Issue #87 • View online
Black History Quiz is a weekly celebration of the contributions and achievements of Africans and the descendants of the diaspora in the United States and around the world. PLEASE SHARE this newsletter and help spread the word about a proud people and their cultures.New issues post on Sundays at 7:30 AM EST.  www.blackhistoryquiz.com

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Black History Quiz: A Word Find Puzzle Book of Black History Facts and Quotes
AFRICAN WEDDING TRADITIONS
Knocking On The Door
Asking the family of the bride for permission to marry is a fairly common practice around the world, and the African American community is no exception from this old-school courtesy call. But did you know that requesting a bride’s hand in marriage is a tradition that can be traced back to a certain African country?
This particular ceremony (also known as “kookoo ko”) begins with a groom knocking on the door of the bride’s home and waiting for entry. When the groom’s knock is accepted, his delegation presents gifts like money and spirits for libation. Once his intentions are announced, both families discuss prospects of becoming one before providing their blessing. When the terms are finalized, the bride is called in and gets asked three times by her father if she agrees to the proposal.
Celebrations begin after the bride says “yes” to each request, thus making the pair’s engagement official. These days, knocking on the door is done as a sign of respect for the bride’s family, and she has final say in the matter. A modern and much simpler option can range from a family dinner to a brief phone call—no dowries required. In which African country did this tradition originate?
Tasting the Four Elements
The ritual known as “Tasting the Four Elements” is a tradition that can fulfill any poetic soul. During the ceremony, the couple gets a literal taste of four flavors that are meant to represent distinct stages within a marriage: cayenne for spiciness, lemon for sourness, vinegar for bitterness and honey for sweetness. By tasting each of these flavors, newlyweds symbolically demonstrate they’ll be able to remain united for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. Who started this tradition?
Money Spray (AKA "Making it rain")
Certain African tribes are the primary groups that practice this generous tradition, but it’s also made its way into some African American wedding receptions. Typically, guests toss cash at the couple in what’s called a “money spray.” The pair celebrate their fortune by dancing to traditional music. Some couples are lucky enough to need assistance when gathering the money off the floor—a good problem to have, of course. By the end of the night, the newly married couple has a fund to help start their life together. Who parties like this?
The Hidden Helper
In this African culture, arranged marriages are the norm, and typically the bride and the groom do not even see one another until the night they are to be married. In an older practice (but not one that is unheard of in modern times), the bride would be given a so-called “marriage mentor”, or somo. This woman, perhaps an older female relative who has already taken part in training the bride on how to be a good wife (part of the pre-wedding preparation), will sleep under the matrimonial bed while the newlyweds consummate their marriage. This is done to ensure the bride is not resistant to the consummation. Then, later, this marriage mentor can confirm that the consummation has taken place, a witness of sorts, and she will take a piece of the bed linens to show the other women the virgin blood. Finally, the newlyweds can be alone, and they remain isolated together for a period of seven days. Which culture believes in extending this discretion?
A High-Leg Kick To "Prove" Virginity
In this African wedding, the highlight of the entire ceremony is often the dance competition that takes place between the family of the bride and the family of the groom. It is a ceremonial dance that signifies the transition of the bride from her own family into that of her new husband’s. At some point during the dance, which is performed during the wedding ceremony, the bride does a little dance all on her own, during which she kicks her leg high with the specific purpose of showing her mother that she is a virgin. Who keeps this tradition alive?
Expecting the Unexpected
In this culture, the tradition of the wedding night begins even before the wedding! The bride decides when it is time for the ceremony, and on the night that she does, she and her female relatives walk through the village once it becomes dark outside. She is dressed from head to toe in white, and as she approaches her future husband’s home, his family will ululate and dance in celebration.
ULULATE :)
ULULATE :)
The groom is told his bride has arrived, and often he had no clue until that moment when the wedding would happen. This is to test how he and his family will deal with an “emergency” situation. The bride eventually ends up at her mother-in-law’s house where she is encouraged to take off her veil, the first time her in-laws ever see their new daughter-in-law. A big party commences and lasts into the next day.
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PUZZLE TIME
I’m trying something new for the month of February - interactive crossword puzzles. My first one is “Great Players of the Negro League.” If enough of you support it, I will make it a regular feature in my newsletter. Good luck solving this one! A new interactive crossword puzzle will debut next week.
BHQ ANSWERS
  • The “Knocking on the door” tradition is from Ghana.
  • The “Tasting of the Four Elements” is a Yoruba tradition.
  • The “Money Spray” tradition is a Nigerian Money Dance practiced Yorùbá and Igbo tribes primarily.
  • The Swahili culture employs hidden helpers to assist newlywed couples.
  • The Virgin kick is a Zulu tradition.
  • Expecting the unexpected is part of the Shona Culture.
For further study:
Nigerian - Money Dance
Nigerian - Money Dance
Toronto Nigerian Wedding Entrance & Money Dance | Traditional Outfits | GTA Videography Photography
Toronto Nigerian Wedding Entrance & Money Dance | Traditional Outfits | GTA Videography Photography
Top 5 African Wedding Traditions You Can Incorporate In Your Wedding
Top 5 African Wedding Traditions You Can Incorporate In Your Wedding
This Nigerian Igbo traditional marriage will leave you speechless / Eby & Emeka
This Nigerian Igbo traditional marriage will leave you speechless / Eby & Emeka
Did you enjoy this issue?
Jim Stroud

Black History Quiz is a weekly celebration of the contributions and achievements of Africans and the descendants of the diaspora in the United States and around the world. PLEASE SHARE this newsletter and help spread the word about a proud people and their cultures. New issues post on Sundays at 7:30 am EST. | www.blackhistoryquiz.com

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