One of the best things about being a guy is that weddings practically plan themselves (but I am obviously not speaking from experience). It’s usually the bride’s job (and unfailing delight) to look for a dress, go over the guest list, and to pick a venue, whether she’s getting married in the Philippines or in Australia. Basically, the groom’s job is to just show up in a tux or a suit, right?
If you are an Aussie groom-to-be who has decided to marry in the Philippines, however, there is one other thing that could puzzle you more than our country’s frustrating bureaucratic process. Compared to Aussies, Filipinos are a largely superstitious people. This is largely because so many foreign settlers graced our strategic shores for centuries, bringing with them their own peculiar beliefs and customs that all went into the glorious melting pot of our country’s culture.
From the construction of a house to the birth of a newborn child, we have some pretty strange superstitions about nearly every aspect of life. Some of our elders even have quirky beliefs about when you should or shouldn’t bathe.
Filipino weddings are even more awash (pardon the pun) with superstition. Someone might “accidentally” break a glass or smash a plate at the reception, your in-laws may shoot you disapproving looks for giving your fiancée a set of fancy kitchen knives as a wedding present, or your bride and her sister or brother could end up fighting if their wedding dates are within the same year.
Confusing, I know. But, hey, the ring’s already on her finger. So, you may as well read up on the following wedding superstitions to avoid committing any major faux pas:
1. “Sweethearts should not exchange sharp or pointed objects before the wedding.”
This supposedly leads to a broken engagement or a broken marriage because knives, scissors, and other similar items “cut up” things, including abstract concepts like relationships. (The guy who invents something that can actually do that should be given a medal. Or hung, depending on who you ask).
2. “The bride should step on her husband’s foot during the wedding ceremony, preferably while they both walk towards the altar.”
Ouch, and you thought no bodily harm would be involved, eh?
Stepping on your groom’s foot is a symbolic way of showing dominance, therefore ensuring that your husband will listen to you and (presumably) let you have your way throughout your marriage. Unsurprisingly, daughters of domineering and superstitious (what a combination) mothers are often encouraged by the latter to do this.
So, if your mother-in-law is sweet and docile, then you should have nothing to worry about. Provided that her husband is the same and doesn’t remotely hate your guts, of course.
3. “Accidentally breaking something during the wedding reception brings good luck to the newlyweds.”
When you smash a glass or a plate, it shatters into pieces, right? Well, according to this superstition, the number of pieces it shatters into symbolizes the number of years that you and your bride will be happily married.
No word on whether the same would still apply if you “accidentally” break her ex-boyfriend’s arm at the wedding, though. (Wait, why is he even invited?)
4. “The bride and groom should avoid traveling great distances shortly before the wedding.”
In the Philippines, an upcoming special event or milestone is said to make one particularly susceptible to the fates. Doing anything daring or dangerous during the said period is tantamount to tempting any and all forms of disaster to stop you from completing your destiny.
Traveling to far places seems to fall under this category. Oh, well, you can always travel farther on your honeymoon.
5. “Unless you want to be constantly nagged by your wife, never sit down until she does throughout the ceremony.”
Sitting down is supposed to be a symbol of a husband’s defeat (then again, what else can you do if you two are arguing and you’re exasperated?), so you should always wait for the bride to sit down before you take your own seat. That should theoretically prevent you from being endlessly nagged by your wife.
I have yet to hear of a superstitious precaution for nagging mothers-in-law, however.
6. “Brides should not wear pearls on their wedding day.”
Pearls are associated with a woman’s tears. Are you sensing a pattern with all the symbolism here?
In the same vein, a bride who wears pearls, even ones given to her by a loving fiancée, to her wedding is destined for a married life filled with tearful heartache and loneliness. Some versions of this superstition even claim that pearl rings worn by a bride could cause her husband to stray. Go figure.
7. “Couples should refrain from having their wedding on the 22nd of any month.”
Quite a few couples in the Philippines shy away from the number “22” because it looks like two (stick) people kneeling. Since the Philippines is a Catholic country, you would think that’s a good thing, but it isn’t because the number is seen to represent a couple brought to their knees by ill luck.
With that logic, you may as well try booking your wedding day on the 11th since that number looks like two people standing up, if you squint hard enough, perhaps.
8. “Giving the couple a chamberpot (arinola in the Filipino vernacular) as a wedding present blesses them with prosperity.”
Admittedly, the origins of this superstition are more practical than fantastical. Before the days of indoor plumbing, toilets were often located outside the house and a chamberpot within was a convenient luxury. Newlyweds probably encouraged their guests to gift them with one at their wedding and the practice probably grew from there.
Now, if only one of your many wedding ninongs or godfathers could think of gifting you two with a solid gold arinola.
9. “It is bad luck for two siblings to marry within the same year.”
This belief is so widespread and so widely-subscribed to that local film producers even made a widely-successful horror film about it. (I kid you not, you can even watch the trailer for it here.)
Two siblings marrying within the same year is troublesome, it seems, because they end up splitting the luck between the two of them. Alternatively, some believe that one sibling will be blessed with all of the good luck while the other will be blighted by misfortune if they insist on pushing through with their plans.
There is a remedy in case your bride and her sister or brother are in a deadlock (or a headlock) over who should reschedule their wedding; the sibling who marries later that year can counteract the curse by passing through the back stairs of the church prior to the ceremony.
10. “If an engaged couple gets into a fight before the wedding and the groom walks out, the bride should hang his shirt over a stove and whip it several times to make sure that he comes back before the wedding.”
Perhaps the craziest superstition on this list, the groom’s shirt is meant to be a stand-in for the actual person and putting it over a stove and hitting it repeatedly is a voodoo-ish way of making the groom’s heart go all jumpy and contrite so that he’ll “repent” and come back home.
But if you choose to return before your fiancée calms down, bear in mind that she may chuck the shirt away and hang you over the stove instead, mate.