Dating and relationships can be really tough – whether you’re newly coupled, together forever or still looking for your match – our culture has some pretty deep traditions when it comes to relationships. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be courted in a different country? Here are 5 traditions that might have you booking a plane ticket… or not.
If you have ever felt disappointed on Valentine’s day, then count your blessings that you don’t live in South Korea, where they have a ’love day’ every month of the year. On the 14th of each month, there is a different celebration focused around couples. In January, you exchange blank diaries to be filled with that year’s special occasion. In May, you wear matching yellow and exchange roses. In August, you’re supposed to spend the day outside with your lover, celebrating and drinking soju together. There is also a photo day, movie day, wine day, hug day, silver day and kiss day. To their credit, April is dedicated to singles. On April 14th, singles get together with their friends and eat Jjajangmuin (noodles with a thick black sauce) – just in case they weren’t feeling bad enough already.
In the Wodaabe culture in Niger, you can get married twice. Your initial marriage is arranged when you are very young, but your second marriage, also known as the ‘love match’, can happen at Gerewol. Gerewol is a celebration of fertility that the rain brings to the land. It is also an event where the men dress up in painted faces and ceremonial costumes and perform dances much like a male beauty contest. The women judge the men and then get to choose their new mate based on beauty and charisma. The match can either be for a fling or a new marriage, but Wodaabe is not a polygamous culture, so if you find a new partner, you must leave your old one. Impressively, there is no stigma attached to this.
We can learn a thing or two from the Kreung community in Ratanakiri, Cambodia. The Kreung community values premarital sex during the process of choosing a life partner. The greatest part is that the women are in control! When a daughter becomes a teenager, her parents build a ‘love hut’ separate from their home for her to sleep in and receive suitors. The girl is totally in control of the situation. If a teenage boy knocks, she can send him away or invite him in. Inviting him in does not necessarily lead to sexual engagement, but if it does, it is considered part of the process of finding the right person. Nowadays, there are fewer huts being built because families have the resources to build larger houses with a separate room for their daughter so she doesn’t need a separate hut. Unfortunately, this free-spirited custom is declining rapidly with the influence of the Khmer regime that promotes female virginity.
Fraternal polyandrous marriages are not very common, but they do still occur in very remote regions of the Himalayan and Indian communities where land is scarce. Families are organized by a joint system, which means they live and work on the same land together. If two brothers marry two different women the land gets divided and they would each have fewer crops. This problem is solved when brothers marry the same woman. This way, they share the land and profit economically. Not only does it help save the land, but it also prevents a drastic increase in population size. The entire family raises all children without any differentiation between fathers. In case you were wondering, having designated scheduled time with the wife prevents jealousy between brothers. In recent years, the culture is changing. The spread of technology and information is slowly leading these communities to monogamous relationships.
In the Javanese village of Solo, there is a pilgrimage that revolves around adultery with strangers. There is a shrine called Gunung Kemukus where Muslims go to say prayers, wash themselves in the sacred springs and test their luck with a stranger. It is thought that if you have adulterous sex with the same person 7 times in one year on Jumat Pon (35 days apart), then it will bring you good fortune. The key is that it must be a total stranger and that it has to be the same person each time. This means that you can’t just find someone based on looks, you have to make sure that you have the same motivation and that they are willing to meet up with you for the rest of the year. Apparently it works and businesses really start to grow!
What are your thoughts? Do you wish any of these traditions were in your hometown?
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