Culture

The Latino Wedding Traditions You’ve Been Taking Part In Are Deeply Rooted In History From Other Cultures

When it comes to our bodas, Latinos have the traditions and customs on lock. From money dances to wedding vows, there is no aspect of a wedding that involves a Latina that won’t be strongly steeped in culture and tradition. But where did our unique practices of the “traditional wedding” come from anyway? It turns out, while so much of the weddings that take place in countries like Cuba, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Peru aren’t just based in their lands of origins.

In fact, many of customary traditions match surprisingly along with the traditions of countries across the globe.

Bridesmaids

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These days brides have become accustomed to offering their bridesmaids a bit more leniency and control over the dresses they wear to wedding ceremonies. While it was once much more common to see brides of all sizes and shapes donning the exact same dresses, size-inclusivity and consideration have inspired many brides to allow their girls to pick out styles for themselves while wearing the same color or shade.

Matching dresses during the processional wasn’t always a tactic used by brides to ensure they stood out over the rest, however. In fact, bridesmaids of Ancient Rome originally wore dresses that looked similar to the bride’s so that they could help her to outsmart evil spirits. With so many dresses to compare, evil spirits wouldn’t know which woman in the lineup was the bride that day.

But the bridesmaids’ duties were far more treacherous in early Rome, where they were expected to intervene on behalf of the bride and fight off any former boyfriends of the bride who attempted to ruin her wedding day or steal her dowry.

Las Arras

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These gold coins can be seen in just about any Latin American Christian wedding ceremony but it undoubtedly comes from Spain.

The custom of presenting thirteen gold coins to the bride and groom in an ornate box can be traced back to Rome and Spain. Arras means “earnest money” in Spanish and is the money presented from the groom’s family to the bride’s.

Wedding Cake

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The customary wedding cake wasn’t always so romantic or delightful.

According to research, ancient Romans would require a groom to take a bite of bread at their wedding and crumble the remains on the bride’s head for good luck. “Fun” ensued when guests were prompted to then rush to her feet and pick up whatever bread crumbs they could find so that they too could have a bit of good luck. These days, the modern western approach to desserts and weddings has seen many cultures opt for actual desserts and cake for the celebrations of a couple’s wedding.

Money Dances


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The money dance is an event that occurs in many cultures rooted in Latin America, though the exact origins of it are unknown. During a money dance, guests will give money in a chance to dance with the bride. Often times, the money given to the bride and groom is used to help set them up for a future or for just a little extra cash on their honeymoon. While no origins of the dance are known, it might be of interest to some that the tradition is common among the Yoruba and Igbo people of Nigeria.

White Gowns

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At one time, red was actually the color du jour for brides at weddings. While some had actually worn white for their weddings, it was not until Queen Victoria rocked a white gown for her wedding that white became the color most Western brides would opt for.

Wedding Rings

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The tradition of wedding rings can be traced back 6,000 years ago to ancient Egypt. At the time, couples exchanged braided rings made of reeds and hemp in a gesture that symbolized eternal love and commitment. Ancient Egyptians had a belief that the left hand had a vein that was connected directly to the heart and as a result started the tradition of wearing wedding rings on the left hand (awww!). Clearly, the custom caught on and spread because the exchange of rings is one done throughout the world. In Latin America, this is no different. Today, couples all over Latin America wear rings and in Brazil and Mexico, couples often wear engagement rings (not just the bride!).

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A California Couple Who Met In Middle School Died Hours Apart From Eachother At Age 67 From COVID-19

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A California Couple Who Met In Middle School Died Hours Apart From Eachother At Age 67 From COVID-19

As the current situation with the Coronavirus pandemic continues to surge, families and friends continue to live divided lives. Hope has come in the form of new vaccines and their distribution across the globe, however, the tragedies continue.

Now, a San Diego family, whose patriarchs weren’t able to receive vaccines, is suffering deeply.

Juan and Blanca Rodriguez passed away from COVID this past week within hours of saying their last goodbyes on Zoom.

The middle school sweethearts met in the seventh grade spent decades together as a married couple until passing away at the age of sixty-seven. Juan and Blanca met in the seventh grade, were married five years later, and went onto have four children and six grandchildren.

“He saw my mom in homeroom in seventh grade, and he said from the moment he saw her, he knew he was going to marry her,” the couple’s daughter Cynthia Rodriguez explained in an interview to NBC12

This past January, Juan and Blanca were retired and living with one of their children when everyone in the family contracted COVID-19.

Their illnesses came as a surprise to the family particularly because they had been extremely cautious.

“We quarantined. We didn’t go out. We didn’t even go to stores. We would order food delivery,” the couple’s other daughter Blanca Velazquez explained.

While the family eventually recovered, on Feb. 1 Juan and Blanca were rushed to the hospital. The couple was sent to two separate facilities and communicated with their family through Zoom.

Over the weekend, after Juan’s condition continued to worsen his family said virtual goodbyes.

“My mom was on the Zoom call, and she told my dad that she was happy that she was able to share her life with him, and she thanked him for being the love of her life,” explained Velazquez.

Juana and Blanca’s son Juan Rodriguez Jr. revealed on a GoFundMe page set up to help with funeral expenses that not long after Blanca’s call with Juan, the family received a call from Blanca “saying she was not doing well and they had to put her on a ventilator as well. The Dr. called a few hours later and said she didn’t respond to the ventilator and there was nothing else they could do for her.”

Blanca passed away three hours after her call with her family on Feb. 8 at 12:30 a.m. Later, Juan died at 4:18 a.m.

“Losing one parent is bad enough, but losing them both on the same day has been both devastating and heartbreaking. We have peace in knowing that since they were always together in life, they could not be apart in death as well,” Juan Jr. wrote. “He couldn’t live without her, so, he just let go. It’s like an epic love story, that they went together in the same day. They were the best parents,” Velazquez told NBC12.

As of Thursday afternoon, the family’s GoFundMe raised $16,897 toward its $25,000 goal.

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The Dominican Republic Finally Outlaws Child Marriage After Years of Campaigning by Girls’ Rights Activists

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The Dominican Republic Finally Outlaws Child Marriage After Years of Campaigning by Girls’ Rights Activists

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Outside of the U.S., some good news has occurred amidst a week that has otherwise been full of mayhem and chaos.

On Wednesday, the Dominican Republic’s Executive Branch approved a law that unilaterally bans child marriage in its country.

In the past, children younger than 18 were allowed to marry with a special exemption from a judge. These exemptions happened often. Now, no woman or man under the age of 18 are allowed to marry under any circumstances in the Dominican Republic.

This move is significant because the Dominican Republic has the highest rates of child marriage in Latin America and the Caribbean. Official government figures show that 36% of Dominican girls and adolescents marry or enter into “unions” before the age of 18. In 12% of these relationships, the female partner was less than 15 years old.

More informal “unions” where a girl simply moves into an older man’s household are also common in the DR. These are very common in higher poverty communities where many girls are considered a financial burden on their families. Unions like these will be harder to penalize because there is no formal documentation of their partnership.

There are multiple factors that play into the Dominican Republic’s high child marriage rate.

One of the main factors is the culture of machismo that informs the way that young men and women approach relationships.

According to research conducted by Plan International, 81% of Dominican girls said they preferred men that were five years older than them. This statistic is in stark contrest to 39% of Dominican men who prefer their partners 18 or younger because they found them more “obedient” and “adaptable”.

Not only that, but there is also a strong cultural expectation for girls and women to become mothers and wives. These cultural beliefs have simply stoked the practice of child marriage.

“Child marriage and early unions are seen as normal in society. It is driven by machismo that sees the role of a woman to be just a mother and wife,” said Rosa Elcarte, UNICEF’s representative in the Dominican Republic, to the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Ending early unions will require years of work to change cultural norms.”

Feminists and human rights activists consider this law a win after many years campaigning to put an end to this practice.

But on a bittersweet note, many advocates realize that one law doesn’t dismantle the patriarchal structure of their culture that enabled this practice for so long. There is still a lot of work to be done.

“Our girls and adolescents will be protected … and cannot be forced into marriage in their childhood or adolescence, which in the past was often carried out by parents and legally allowed,” said Sonia Hernandez, an associate director of the International Justice Mission, in a statement to NBC News.

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