When a good friend is getting married, it's nice to get him something other than a toaster, salad bowl or pair of his and hers towels. Something rooted in tradition and symbolism adds a personal touch to gifts, ensuring it will be remembered above the myriad of items coming from the traditional registry list.
In the Scandinavian country of Norway, a couple is traditionally presented with a pair of pine trees on their wedding day, which is a symbol of fertility. Two sapling trees are planted on either side of the couple's doorway where they will continue to grow and beautify their home throughout their marriage, ensuring they have many children.
Perhaps a Pineapple
The delicious pineapple has long been a symbol of welcome. In the colonial era, pineapples were an expensive, exotic fruit and only available to the wealthy. Hostesses would sometimes rent a pineapple to be displayed among other foods at a party, but it would then be purchased for consumption by a wealthier family who could afford to admire and eat it. As the pineapple was such a luxury, it was saved to indulge the most favored and honored guests, turning it into a symbol of welcome. For a married couple beginning life together, a pineapple door knocker or other decoration is a lovely way to christen a new home and welcome friends and family for celebration of nuptials.
In India and the Middle East, brides wear ornate henna tattoos to their weddings, a type of non-permanent body art that decorates the arms, hands, feet and legs. Though not every bride might want to display such decorations on the big day, giving a henna party as a gift a few weeks in advance (giving the dye time to properly fade) can be a special treat. Henna symbolizes a protection from wicked spirits and is done to ensure happiness for the marrying couple. The designs can be incredibly detailed and beautiful, and a henna party, where the work is performed by a professional artist, is a wonderful bonding experience.
A Secret Surprise, Thai Style
When preparing the marriage bed for a newlywed couple in Thailand, friends and family will place sesame seeds, rice and coins between the sheets and blankets. Little packets of these gifts can be placed to symbolize fertility and good luck, ensuring the couple a happy life together.
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Hallie Engel is a food and lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in several international publications. She served as a restaurant critic for "Time Out Abu Dhabi" and "Time Out Amsterdam" and has also written about food culture in the United Arab Emirates for "M Magazine." She holds a bachelor's degree in communications and film studies from University of Amsterdam.
Wedding bouquet the bride on background of wedding dress image by Aliaksandr Zabudzko from Fotolia.com