Dancing in different cultures

There are some cultures in which dancing plays a very important role in wedding celebrations.

For example, dancing is a major feature of Jewish weddings. It is customary for the guests to entertain the newly weds by dancing in front of them. Traditional dances include:

  • The Krenzl  - The Bride's mother is crowned with a wreath of flowers as her daughters dance around her.
  • The Mizinke - The parents of the bride or groom dance together when their last child is wed
  • The "Horah" is a Middle Eastern/Israeli style of dance usually played as a second dance set.
  • The gladdening of the bride – guests dance around the Bride, using items such as signs, banners, costumes, confetti, and jump ropes made of table napkins.
  • The Mitzvah tantz - Family members and rabbis are invited to dance in front of the bride, and then dance with the groom. At the end the bride and groom dance together themselves.

At Irish weddings it is traditional for a ceilidh to be performed; this is a traditional Irish set dance. Some ceilidh dances are named after locations in Ireland such as the ‘Kerry Set’ and the ‘Seige of Ennis’ and some waltz tunes include names such as ‘Galway Shawl’ or ‘Home to Mayo’. A lot of couples choose songs to reflect their family’s heritage or ancestral home.

Scottish wedding parties kick off with the Bride and Groom dancing a traditional reel.  The Bride’s second dance is reserved for the person of the highest rank amongst the guests and the third dance is traditionally the ‘Shiam Spring’. The Bride is allowed to choose the music for this dance; a reel that the Bride dances with the Bridegroom, Best Man and Bridesmaids. A Sword Dance is usually performed as the last dance and guests would then gather in a circle and sing Auld Lang Syne.

If dancing is not your thing, why don’t you consider an African-American tradition called ‘Jumping the Broom’? This custom is believed to have originated in the Deep South during the American Civil War when slave weddings were not permitted. In an effort to develop an alternative ceremony, the slaves incorporated jumping over a broom to possibly symbolise jumping from single life to married life or maybe even sweeping away the old to welcome the new.

Find your own meaning for this practice or even think about substituting a different item for the broom. We have heard of some cultures using a sword, a decorated pole (like a maypole) and even a row of flowers.

Alternatively you could consider playing a game, such as the traditional Russian game ‘Paying the Ransom’. According to tradition, the Groom enters and asks to see his Bride. The Bride’s family goes to get her but actually bring back another woman, (or preferably a man in drag!) However, their face is concealed behind a thick veil. When the Groom discovers the deceit, he must pretend to be distraught and beg to see his true love. Then the fun begins! The Groom must persuade the captors of his Bride to release her by performing silly songs and dances. The Bride’s family demands a ransom – vykup nevesty - for her release.

Otherwise, just go for an old fashioned knees up and you wont go far wrong!!