Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Comparing Cultures

Most of the time, living in Montenegro is very much the same as living in America. Or the difference is minimal. But occasionally the contrasts stick are more noticeable. For instance, here yogurt is a drink and hot chocolate is thick enough you need to eat it with a spoon.

Or the French make car (Renault), you purchased in a Serbian speaking nation comes with instruction manuals in Italian.
But we recently attended a wedding here, and the differences to what we've experienced in America were quite interesting. First, religious leaders do not have the legal authority to marry people. Neither Orthodox or Catholic priests, Protestant pastors or Muslim Imams can formally join two people in the bonds of matrimony. A couple wishing to wed must go to the special government office created for that purpose.
The bride and groom get one attendant/witness each, called the kuma and kum respectively (this is also the title "godmother" and "godfather"). The official reads out the Montenegrin "laws of marriage" which include that the husband and wife are equal, and they must agree on where to live but are independent in choosing where they work. They promise to abide by these rules, "take" one another as spouse, exchange rings, kiss, and sign the marriage register.
If the couple chooses, they may then have a religious ceremony at the church or mosque of their faith. Our friends did, and the religious ceremony included the more familiar vows involving "in sickness and health", and" 'til death do us part." Then there was a reception with an amazing variety of wonderful food, singing, dancing (Balkan style line dances, not ballroom style), and blessings for the couple. With the two ceremonies and the reception, the wedding lasted about 6 hours.


Melissa Hunter-Kilmer said...

My parents-in-law were married in France, and they were required to have a civil ceremony, too. I could be wrong, but I think a lot of countries require one. We're lucky that in the US we don't have to have an extra ceremony!

D.L. Diener said...

I think cultural differences are highlighted best in those rite-of-passage rituals (birth, marriage, death). I find it fascinating and have learned a lot in the very few outside-my-borders chances I've had. So hot chocolate with a spoon? Yummy.

Anonymous said...

Were the celebrations similar to ones in Albania-bride's dance , groom's dance, pictures at a special place before the ceremony and different ceremonies for groom's and bride's family ? Each culture seems to have unique ways to celebrate.

Steve, Laura, Ruth and Esther said...

No, it was nothing like Albanian customs. Nothing separate for bride and groom. The dancing was a similar style in that it was many people in a line, but the resemblence ended there.

Tracy Lockwood said...

I think I could get used to hot chocolate as thick as pudding, yum!