May 2020 • volume 5
EXPLORE THE TRADITIONS
Middle Eastern Wedding Issue
for the Groom
Middle Eastern Weddings
Explore the beautiful world of
Middle Eastern weddings.
Spot Light 12
A Challenge for the Groom
Explore a Turkish pre-wedding
tradition that puts the groom
under a very difficult test.
Middle Eastern Weddings serve a
traditional sugar coated almonds
as a giveaway to the guests.
No No’s in an Arabic Wedding
Explore the things that you should
never do in an Arabic Wedding.
7 Days and Nights
In Tunisia, Weddings celebrations
last for a whole week, and each day
is a traditional special day.
Mother of the Bride Interview
Interesting interview with Amale,
about the responsibility of the
bride’s mom in the Arab World.
Get Involved 48
Learn how to dance the traditional
Explore some of the weirdest
wedding traditions Arabs have
adopted over the years.
Sword Cutting the Cake
The historic reasons behind cutting
the wedding cake using a sword in
the Middle East.
2 La Vie
The Lebanese Zaffe
This is one extravagant warm
up to the big party! As both
bride and groom make their way
to the church surrounded by
drums and Zaffe dancers.
The Art of Mehndi
Mehndi is one of the oldest forms
of body art conceived by man.
Explore the Art behind Henna
Designs and ceremonies.
A traditional Moroccan wedding
dresses with a modern twist
A Historic Wedding
Explore a historic wedding in one
of the most important historic
countries in the world, Egypt.
May 2020 • volume 5
EDITOR IN CHIEF
ASSOCIATE ART DIRECTOR
RESEARCH AND COPY
JUNIOR RESEARCH EDITOR
JUNIOR COPY EDITOR
When it comes
to traditions, this
month’s issue is
very special to
me. May is the
heart of wedding
season, and we
at La Vie thought
it would be fun
to dive in deep
and explore the
traditions of Middle
Growing up in Syria,
one of my favorite
things to do was to look
through my mother’s and
albums. It was fascinating to
see the same traditions celebrated
in different ways without loosing its
All over the world, weddings are symbolic gestures
that unite two people while customs remain as unique
as love itself. In this issue we explore the unique and
beautiful customs of wedding rituals in the Middle East.
Lets explore this issue together.
May 2020 • volume 5
for the groom
Countries around the world have different coffee cultures.
And there is no doubt that Turkey has one of the most well known
coffee cultures. When it comes to daily life, coffee plays a significant
role especially in a traditional pre-wedding ceremony.
BY: ALLISON SMITH
When the groom’s parents
visit the bride’s family to ask for
the soon-to-be bride’s hand and
blessings of her parents,the bride
serves Turkish coffee to everyone
with sugar but the groom.
The groom takes the coffee with
salt and he has to drink that coffee
without making any face. If the
groom can down the whole cup of
salty coffee, it means he has not
only proven his manliness, but it
shows that he’s ready to marry her.
Sounds pretty romantic, right?
pre-wedding ceremony, his bride
to be didn’t realize that she was
adding salt to his coffee instead
of sugar. After tasting the “salty
coffee’’, Osman Fevzi didn’t even
make a strange face and kept on
drinking the salty coffee. Suddenly
his future wife noticed her mistake
from the other faces and that’s
when she felt ashamed.
Instead of getting mad at his bride
to be, he made up a whole story on
how much he absolutely loved salty
coffee. He held on to this story until
the day he died.
During these romantic minutes, the
groom’s family is also observing the
bride’s service and coffee making
skills. After the coffee drinking
ceremony, both of the families
rings on the
fingers. And let’s say they live
happily ever after.
“One spoon of salt may not help
you find best taste of coffee but
sometimes it makes the coffee
even sweeter than sugar”
But how is it possible that they will
live in pure happiness with the help
of just one cup of coffee?
There are so many stories that
have been telling us about where
this tradition comes from. The
most known one is a quote from
the will of Osman Fevzi, who was
a retired colonel in the Ottoman
Empire. According to passages of
that retired colonel, everything has
started by a mistake; during his
However, Osman Fevzi does not let
her apology or talk and cooks up
a story about how much he loves
salty coffee. Also, at the end of
this story, he asks her if she would
be okay with
He told her that
he would much
rather drink salty coffee for the rest
of his life than seeing his wife being
ashamed in front of everyone.
One spoon of salt may not help
you find best taste of coffee but
sometimes it makes the coffee even
sweeter than sugar because you
know what they say: “Coffee should
be black as hell, strong as death…
and sweet as love…”
The image to the left shows a bride making
Turkish coffee. Photo AdobeStock.
May 2020 • volume 5
THE ART OF
BY: MADISON WOODRUFF
Mehndi, otherwise known as henna, is a
paste associated with positive spirits and
good luck. Indian Wedding tradition calls
for a Mehndi ceremony to be held the night
before the wedding as a way of wishing
the bride good health and prosperity as
she makes her journey on to marriage. The
Mehndi Ceremony is organized by the
Bride’s family bringing together the female
components of each side. While Mehndi is
mainly for females, male relatives are invited
to join in on the party that comes after the
Bride has completed her henna. The core
significance of applying Mehndi is to utilize
its natural medicinal herbal remedies, cooling
the body and relieving the Bride of any stress
before her big day. Henna is applied to both
the hands and the feet as a means of cooling
the nerve-endings of the body, preventing
the nerves from tensing up.
The image to the right shows a couple
holding wedding rings with Mehndi designs
on the bride’s hand. Photo by Kumar Saurabh.
Modern Indian Weddings have adopted
a new tradition of adding song and dance
to the traditionally Mehndi Ceremony.
Family members will join together and
perform choreographed dances for the
Bride and later bring the Bride on the dance
floor to celebrate her upcoming wedding. In
many ways, the Mehndi serves as a second
Sangeet, bringing families together to
celebrate the couple before they tie the knot.
The Bride’s family either calls a Mehndi/
Henna Artist to come to their home or a
family relative to create designs for the Bride
and her guests. While traditionally Indian
Vedic Mehndi designs were applied to the
Bride, nowadays Brides call inspiration
from Hindu-Arabic and Arabic designs to
adorn their hands and feet. You may find
that certain artists include animals, nature
elements, Hindu Gods, or even the Bride and
Groom represented with names or figures.
After for the Henna to stain her hands and
feet to create lasting designs. It is commonly
believed among Indian tradition that the
darker the color of the Bride’s Mehndi, the
more her husband will love her.
Mehndi is one of the oldest forms of body
art conceived by man. The Hindi and Arabic
word Mehendi is derived from a Sanskrit
word ‘mendhika’ which referred to the henna
plant itself. Reference to uses of henna can
be traced back to the Bronze ages. In the
bible, henna is referred to a Camphire. In and
around the Indian subcontinent, henna has
been used as a cosmetic even before Vedic
ages. India is considered as the source from
where the body art traditions with henna
spread to different parts of the world like
Egypt, Asia Minor and the Middle East.
THE SECRET OF HENNA
• The Mehndi paste is made from dried
powdered henna leaves.
• The leaves are dried in sun, ground and
sieved to obtain a fine green powder
• Then combined with water, lemon juice,
drops of eucalyptus oil, and mixed
together till a smooth paste
• The paste is soaked overnight for
maximum infusion and then
poured in plastic cones.
• Smaller cones are preferred as
it affords easier application.
Days & Nights
to get married
BY: BEATRICE ZORRILLA
In Tunisia, weddings
are considered as one of the
most important occasions
in one person’s life and their
preparation may take years.
You’re probably wondering why
does it take so long to prepare a
wedding that would last only few
hours? Well in Tunisia, a wedding
last… 7 days ! Yes, you’re not
having any hallucinations. Even
if today, young couples are
tending to bring a fresh touch to
their wedding, they remain very
attached to their traditions
even if their costs might be
very high sometimes.
As the tradition in Tunisia, the
wedding lasts one week, and
every day there’s a special
occasion that may concern the
bride, the groom or both of
them. Years ago, the bride had
to wear seven different outfits
and jewelry but today, things are
changing without loosing any of
On the first day of the wedding
week, all women of the family
prepare the bride’s trousseau and
iron all her clothes.
The next day, women unpack all the
bride’s trousseau in her new house
and help her store it.
The third day is totally dedicated
to the bride and it’s called the
“hammam” day, or the “bath” day.
The mother, sisters and friends
of the bride form a musical
procession on their way to the
hammam. During this special day,
all the women take care of the bride
in a festive and joyful atmosphere.
At the end of the day, the bride
looks pretty with her glowing and
shiny skin, and ready for the best
day of her life.
The fourth day is an important day:
it’s the henna ceremony. In the
Tunisian tradition, henna brings luck
and happiness to the bride in her
new life. During the ceremony, a
member of the family, generally an
older woman put some henna paste
on the bride’s body.
Then comes the “harkous”
ceremony, the day after. During this
ceremony, the same old woman
decorates the bride’s body with
different beautiful designs (flowers,
butterflies, etc.). In this ceremony
women celebrate by singing
traditional songs, belly dancing,
and playing Tunisian instruments.
24 La Vie
THINGS ARE CHANGING
WITHOUT LOOSING ANY
OF THEIR AUTHENTICITY
On the sixth day, the bride is finally
ready for her “outia”, a traditional
Tunisian ceremony dedicated to the
bride. During this ceremony, the
bride and hers guests wear their
beautiful oriental and traditional
outfits. These outfits are different
from a region to another, and the
bride can wear many dresses.
The seventh day is obviously
the most important day. After a
whole week of festivities, the bride
and the groom are finally getting
married during a big celebration
where all the family and friends
are invited the share the couple’s
The image to the right shows a Tunisian
bride wearing the traditional Tunisian attire.
Photo by Alamy Stock Photos
in the Arab World
From rituals to prevent envy, to those that attract suitors, here are
some of the weirdest wedding traditions Arabs have adopted.
BY: RACHEL ESTEVES
Groom takes off a piece of clothing
and makes a run for it. In the
Emirati Shihuh tribe, the groom
takes off apiece of clothing as he
sprints to his bride’s family home.
The symbolism behind this bizarre
ritual is still unclear.
Bride intentionally falls while
dancing, husbands should always
have their wives’ backs, and this
maxim takes literal effect in some
Sudanese weddings. Brides put
their grooms to test. One minute
they’re dancing, and then without
warning, they intentionally fall to
the ground. This will happen several
times during the party. The grooms
are expected to prevent the bride
from falling each time, or face
Single ladies write their names
on the bride’s shoes. This one’s
for all the single ladies looking for
a match. The next time you get
invited to a wedding, write your
name on the back of the bride’s
shoes. The universe might just
respond and swing the perfect
suitor in your direction.
Pinch the bride. In Egypt after the
bride is dressed up, single women
surround her and each pinch her
knee. This is said to improve her
chances of finding a partner at
the wedding party.
Step on fish. This ritual is very
common among the people of the
city of Sfax. A big fish, decorated
with colorful strings, is brought to
the couple on a dish. The groom
holds his bride's hand as she takes
seven steps on the fish, then they
switch roles, while people chant a
well-known folkloric song.
Stick dough on the door. Some
brides stick a piece of dough on
the doors of their new houses. This
is said to predict the success of the
marriage. If the dough remains in
place, they will have a long, happy
life. If not, the marriage will is going
up a slippery slope, so to speak.
Crack an egg on the wedding night.
In a bid to expel evil and mark
the beginning of a new chapter, a
Moroccan bride might break an egg
painted with henna on the wall of
her new home. She does this on
her wedding night.
Some people in the Iraqi Diyala
province get a boy to pee on the
couple’s bed on the night of the
wedding. This is said to give natural
selection a little push in the Y
The image to the right shows an Iraqi
bride’s shoes with ladies names written on
it Photo by Kevin Chin Photography.
54 La Vie