Thursday November 23, 2017
Everyone knows that in Hawaii, cultures are mixed and traditions are a must, and weddings are no exception. Check out these local customs and how Hawaii brides put their personal spin on it.
Banzai! Banzai! BANZAI!
In Japanese culture the banzai toast is a very popular local wedding tradition. The word banzai literally means 10,000 years, so to "banzai" is to celebrate and wish the couple happiness for 10,000 years. In this context, two separate banzai toasts are usually given at a wedding. The first, "Shinro Shimpu, banzai" means "long life and happiness to the bride and groom" and is typically given by a friend of the couple. The second, "Raihin Shokun, banzai" means "long life and happiness to all the guests" and is typically given by a family member. After each toast, participants cheer banzai three times in unison and raise their glasses and arms in celebration, drinking after the third. Way more fun than just "cheers!"
May I have this dance?
A fun tradition that originated in Poland is the money dance, also known as the dollar dance. One belief is that the money dance started when arranged marriages ruled. Since the groom didn't receive any dowry until consummation, the couples performed this money dance to set up their household. In exchange for the dollar (or more!), the guest would get a chance to dip the bride or sway with the groom. Nowadays, the money dance has become a guaranteed way to get face time with your guests!
Not Lion, This is Awesome
An entertaining Chinese tradition that dates back to 3rd Century B.C. is the Lion Dance. Two performers (one in the head and one controlling the back) work together in perfect harmony to bring the lion costume to life through dance. In Chinese culture, lions represent joy so the artful dance and the loud beating of the drums ward off evil spirits. Typically, you'll see one or two lions at a wedding working the crowd, dancing around the entire room, being "fed" dollar bills by your guests before making their way to the bride and groom for their final feeding. Perfectly synced to the drums, the lions bow, shake, stand tall and raise the excitement in the entire reception. Fun fact? There are several types of lion dancers in Hawaii. The Northern Chinese lion dance is more acrobatic and their lions are red, orange or yellow. The Southern Chinese lion dance is performed specifically to scare evil spirits and summon good luck. These lions are much more decorative and come in a variety of colors.
An ancient Korean tradition is displaying a pair of hand-carved, wooden ducks at the head table at the reception. Mandarin ducks mate for life and symbolize fidelity and loyalty and are supposed to represent the bride and groom. Couples nowadays can choose to have a simple, wood finish, slick porcelain texture or select a colorful, decorative pattern to display (you can buy them online!). After the wedding, the ducks are taken home and displayed somewhere in the couple's home. Tradition says if they're nose-to-nose the couple is happy. Or if they're tail-to-tail, they're having a tiff! That's a lot easier than updating your Twitter!
Just My Cup of Tea
Chinese wedding tea ceremonies are very common in Hawaii. Monks began studying tea after it was accidentally invented in 2737 B.C. and since then has become known as China's national drink. On the day of the wedding, the tea ceremony typically begins at the bride's home where she serves tea dutifully to her parents wearing a traditional chum song (traditional Chinese attire) to show respect and honor for her family. Then, after the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom serve tea to the groom's family. Kneeling, with the bride always on the left side of the groom, they serve his parents first. The couple continues to serve tea to the groom's family from oldest to youngest, bowing and showing gratitude to each family member. The tea is sweetened by adding lotus seeds and two red dates symbolizing hope for a sweet relationship between the joining families. Once the tea is sipped by both the bride, groom and relative, the relative offers a gift to the couple - most commonly a piece of gold jewelry or "lee see" (a red Chinese envelope that contains a monetary gift). Tea ceremonies are a touching, traditional and beau-TEA-ful addition to a cultural wedding.
Hawaiian legend believes that the Goddess Hi'iaka made the first lei out of Lehua blossoms (the fire flower) and gave it to her sister Pele, Goddess of Fire. In ancient Hawaiian culture, leis were worn by royalty to show status and power. In modern day Hawaii, everyone is welcome to wear a lei as they share the warm aloha spirit, representing appreciation, congratulations, love and celebration. Local weddings incorporate the lei exchange because the lei, like the wedding ring, has no ending or beginning and represents a couple's unifying commitment to one another. A lei ceremony traditionally includes a few Hawaiian words of wisdom that's personalized to the couple, followed by the exchange of lei and a kiss on the cheek. The most popular lei for the exchange is the maile for the groom and a pikake for the bride, although leis come in a variety of beautiful flowers to suit any couple. This Hawaiian touch is truly a mark of a wedding in paradise.