The Palestinians are steeped in a rich culture with an abundance of beautiful traditions that date back many years, and there’s certainly no shortage of them when it comes to wedding celebrations. While Palestinian weddings these days tend to incorporate more Western practices, a large number of refugees and the generational diaspora that have accumulated over the years means that many people are often turning to their native traditions as a way to preserve their culture.
Here at Wedded Wonderland, we love everything cultural, so we’re sharing with you five of our favourite Palestine wedding traditions. Don’t be surprised if you see some of your own traditions here, as the Levantine areas tend to overlap and share many cultural aspects.
1. Henna Night
You might be familiar with the henna night, as there are many cultures who hold one before the wedding. For Palestinian families, the event is strictly women only and involves a night of music, dancing, and of course, henna.
The bride-to-be’s hands will usually have the most extensive henna work, with the paste being applied in beautiful intricate patterns.
2. Traditional Dress
It isn’t uncommon to see many of the women wearing the traditional Palestinian thobe throughout every celebration. Whether it’s the henna night or the wedding, anyone from the bride to the guests can be found in the beautiful black, or white dresses with gorgeous red patterns and details.
In older generations, the patterns on the dresses were representative of heritage, ancestry, and affiliations. Now, girls tend to wear the dresses passed down to them from their mother or grandmother.
3. Shaving The Groom
In some villages, it’s custom for the groom to have a public shaving on the morning of the wedding. You can expect to see his close friend or a family member doing the shaving.
Once the shaving is complete and the groom is ready, everyone will start to make their way from his house to the bride’s house, where there’ll be plenty of singing to hear.
It’s not an Arab party without a dabke, and the Palestinians sure know how to do it well.
While there are many different types of dabke dances, they all usually start off with the same concept; participants stand in a line holding hands, and walk around the dancefloor, taking specific steps, kicking their legs into the air and stomping their feet down. If you ever get to witness a dabke, keep an eye out for the person leading; they’re usually jumping around a lot more, and doing all sorts of twists and turns.
It’s an ear-splitting sound that every Arab will hear from a mile away; the zaghareet is a sound, usually done by women, that is created by touching the tongue either to the sides of the mouth or the teeth in a very fast motion. The result is something spectacular and an iconic part of any wedding.
Cover photo by: @stellagphoto