FILIPINO WEDDING TRADITIONS

Filipino weddings have always been quite an event long and thoroughly prepared for. Today, some rites have been forgotten, some are not performed any more, but certain things remained unchanged. They somewhat resemble that of European wedding. Some rites are very interesting. Filipino weddings are distinguished by their particular religious atmosphere. Marriages of convenience are seldom here. People marry for love or at least when they have genuine feeling of friendship.

Preparation and wedding itself are held in several stages. The first stage is "Pagtatapat" or marriage proposal. In the Philippines, unlike in Europe, America or other countries, the man doesn't ask "Will you marry me?" His worlds sound more like a statement than a question "Let's get married!" This is the only formality they have to turn a girl into a fiancee.

The next stage is "Singsing". The man dates his fiancee and gets acquainted with her family. Singsing implicates an expensive gift to the fiancee's family or paying ransom for her. Today, it all often comes down to a golden engagement ring. However, families that honor old traditions used to chaffer the price for fiancee, i.e. the amount of ransom. The fianc? and the fiancee usually do not participate in that. First, the fianc?'s father or mother name their price. It may be a couple of horses, TV or some household appliances. If the fiancee's parents agree to that, they seal the deal with a handshake and a joint dinner. However, the fiancee's parents seldom agree to the ransom without haggling over the price. They are usually not satisfied with the amount and name their own price starting active chaffering like that you can see at the oriental markets. The only difference is that the subject is the fiancee. Among arguments why they want to receive more are the fiancee's young age (marriage will interfere with her studies) her houseproudness (a good housewife is expensive) and others. The chaffering may take not hours but days and even months until the parents reach the consensus. It is a good sign if the chaffering doesn't have any consequences. It often happens that somebody loses temper and they start fighting and squabbling. However, this happens when somebody drinks to excess, as alcohol is often present at such haggling.

The next stage is "Pamanhikan". They discuss wedding preparation issues: wedding menu and place, distribution of expenditures between families, etc. It is better if families have already met and get acquainted, otherwise the situation may become tense. This often happens when the fianc? just presents a ring to his fiancee and families do not discuss the amount of ransom.

"Paninilbihan" stage is often omitted today. It is checking the fianc? and his readiness to help his fiancee's family. Newlyweds, if they don't have their own apartment, often live at the wife's parental house. Therefore, they should check if he is a good family guy and if he is ready to participate in the family's affairs. They can entrust him any task like buying trip, some house repairs or accompanying the future mother-in-law to hospital.

Then comes "Pa-Alam" or the official announcement of wedding. They inform all the relatives no matter how distant they may be, even if they live in the loneliest villages. To inform or to invite to the wedding via SMS is considered almost a mortal offence. Everything must be staid and beautiful. They write invitations on beautiful postcards and send them with some gifts or fruit baskets. This is explained by honor and respect to elders. A dropped-in invitation often means offence. Showing attention by personal invitation means showing respect. The invitation doesn't leave relatives indifferent. They will certainly ask about the couple's jobs, salary, where they are going to live, wedding peculiarities and much more. We can only envy the patience of Filipinos.

As Filipinos are very religious, "Dulog" stage is the most important. The couple goes to church to priest to inform him of their intentions. The priest talks to each of them and defines if they are ready for family life. The priest also tells them what will they have to face in their family life, how genuine Catholics must behave, and what are duties of wife and husband in a newly created family.

"Despedida de Soltera" somewhat resembles pre-wedding stag and hen parties in Europe and America. The difference is that the bride and the groom entertain together with their families. This party is organized by the bride's parents, and the party itself is a perfect opportunity to put it up and to settle family ties if the Singsing was very tense. Depending on the families' wishes and opportunities, it may be a calm family dinner or all-night-long party with much alcohol, loud music and foot tapping dancing.

"Alay-Itlog kay Sta. Clara" tradition is responsible for weather on the wedding day. Word-for-word translation is "Rain go away!". It is a good sign when the sky is clear and the sun shines on the day of wedding. That's why many couples follow this rite. They go to monks to present gifts to them. The gifts are traditionally eggs. It is partially explained by the assonance of words "eggs" and "clear" in the Filipino language. When the couple and their relatives present gifts to monks, the ask them to pray for good weather on the wedding day.

The last tradition to be performed before marriage is "Kasal Kumpisal"or purification ceremony. It is held in church 2 or 3 days before wedding. The priest gives the couple to partake in the bread and wine thus purifying them from sins.

Some rites and traditions

In addition to wedding stages, Philippines have more wedding rites. Here are some of them:

-At the wedding party, parents bind a white ribbon around the shoulders of the newlyweds, which symbolizes strength and continuity of their family.

-After the wedding ceremony, the couple releases white pigeons that symbolize peace. If the family is reach, the pigeons are released by many relatives, including of course parents. A flock of pigeons flying to the sky is like a cloud that gradually clears away. The same way, all problems and hardships will clear away in the newlyweds' life.

-Before the wedding, the fianc? and the fiancee must plant at least one three, otherwise the priest may simply refuse to marry them in church.

-Despite the conservatism of Filipinos, the bride's virginity is not always a great virtue. In the past, there were men, which profession was deflowering girls before their marriage.

-The tradition of abstention from sex in the wedding night. They are forbidden to have sex to prevent conceiving a child being drunk. Instead, newlyweds can celebrate, dance and drink with their guests all night long.

-There is also a tradition that demands from the fianc? to pay for enjoying communication with his fiancee, for the possibility to see her before the wedding and to drink and eat in her presence. If a man chooses a girl who has not reached the marriage age yet, he pays her parents for upbringing his future wife.

 
 
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