La Vie Magazine


May 2020 • volume 5


Middle Eastern Wedding Issue

A Challenge

for the Groom

The Art

of Mehndi


Wedding Rituals


the issue

Letter 5

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.

Food 17

Sugar Coated

Middle Eastern Weddings serve a

traditional sugar coated almonds

as a giveaway to the guests.

Tips 22

No No’s in an Arabic Wedding

Explore the things that you should

never do in an Arabic Wedding.

Zoom 24

7 Days and Nights

In Tunisia, Weddings celebrations

last for a whole week, and each day

is a traditional special day.

Q&A 35

Mother of the Bride Interview

Interesting interview with Amale,

about the responsibility of the

bride’s mom in the Arab World.

Get Involved 48

Syrian Dabke

Learn how to dance the traditional

Syrian ”Dabke”.

Global 54

Bizarre Rituals

Explore some of the weirdest

wedding traditions Arabs have

adopted over the years.

Why? 62

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.


Moroccan Inspired

A traditional Moroccan wedding

dresses with a modern twist

fashionable twist.


A Historic Wedding

Explore a historic wedding in one

of the most important historic

countries in the world, Egypt.

May 2020 • volume 5



Anna Makdissi-Elias


Vicky Meloney



Tara Allen


Joseph Hanley


Kelsey Ford


Sarah Louise


Jenna Holder



Rachel Aniston


Lynn Leo


Jay North



Brad Klemens


Julianne Brown


Thomas Hurt

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

Eastern weddings.

Growing up in Syria,

one of my favorite

things to do was to look

through my mother’s and

grandmother’s wedding

albums. It was fascinating to

see the same traditions celebrated

in different ways without loosing its

cultural significance.

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



A Challenge

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.


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


each other

and put

rings on the

bride’s and

the groom’s

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

making salty

coffee after

their marriage.

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





what is


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 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

is obtained.

• 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




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

their authenticity.

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





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

Bizarre Rituals`

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.



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

serious embarrassment.


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

chromosome’s direction.

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




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