Palestine has a very special place in the hearts and minds of Arabs and Muslims. Having Aqsa Mosque and other prominent Islamic and Christian holy places, Palestine is so dear in the eyes of many people.
For me, I find Palestine an excellent model of a country that has preserved its culture and traditions throughout history.
Palestinian wedding is no doubt one of those traditions that has been preserved for a long time and is still practiced in different socioeconomic levels more or less according to old traditions.
Palestinian wedding is a fantastic collection of the traditional Palestinian music, lyrics, deserts, attire, and spirit.
Read more about wedding ceremonies:
- Wedding Traditions in Muslim Communities (Special)
Engagement and More
The Palestinian wedding basically starts by asking for the bride’s hand in a special event. The groom and a number of respectable men from his family visit the bride’s house to set the wedding agreement.
The groom always buys for the bride's family several trays of 'Kenfa Nebulsia', which is traditional sweet stuffed with a certain type of cheese.
What is really characteristic about this event is how the bride's father announces his agreement and blessing for the marriage, and how it is still practiced the same way till now.
If the father's bride agrees, he takes a sip of his coffee, this means he agrees!
After that, comes the engagement ceremony, which is not different from any engagement ceremonies in other cultures.
It's a small party where both families invite their relatives and close friends in the bride's house or a hotel where traditional music is played and meals are served.
Sometimes the engagement ceremony is the same of the marriage contract, or the contract ceremony is done afterwards in a different ceremony.
The Wedding Night
The biggest event, however, is the wedding itself, which is not actually a single event; it's a series of events and ceremonies.
The typical Palestinian wedding consists of three successive events, the third of which is the main wedding night.
Henna Day is the first event, where the groom's family gets large amounts of henna to the bride's house so the bride can have henna drawn on her body as well as her sisters and friends.
The henna day, which is an exclusive feminine ceremony, is usually accompanied by singing traditional songs and dancing.
The Groom's Night:
It is only for men, the groom's family and friends meet to sing, dance, and have fun.
Having special traditional dance makes it even more exciting, where the groom's friends gather in his house or sometimes in the area outside the house to have enough room for 'dabka' (famous Lebanese traditional dance).
I have to say that most Palestinians are clever at dancing dabka and other traditional dances or at least know their basics, this makes an outsider extremely impressed and excited.
Finally, the wedding night:
Before the wedding party, the groom and his family go to the bride's house where some of her family members are invited as well, and then Palestinian songs are played for a while; later the groom takes his bride to the wedding party.
For some families, the wedding party is mixed where the bride and groom sit together with their families and friends from both genders around them.
Conservative families often choose a wedding in which men and women's parties are held at different venues, and the bride can wear whatever she likes and has fun with her friends.
The separate wedding doesn't mean that the groom won't meet his bride during the party. The groom usually enters to give his wife the wedding ring and golden presents and also attend the cake show.
The groom's brothers and close relatives sometimes join the groom at the bride's hall to enjoy dancing with the groom, while the bride is veiled.
The separate wedding is sometimes Islamic, in which only Islamic nasheeds are played, in addition to traditional lyrics. Or it's only a separate one with Palestinian lyrics and contemporary songs.
Talking about lyrics, I have to say that it is one of the most unique and characteristic words I have ever listened to.
Some people might feel it's very old and irrelevant, Palestinians still sing for fruits, vegetables, and hail the bride who comes from countryside origins.
Songs about Palestine, the homeland, different cities in Palestine, and the honor of martyrs, are still very common and an important pillar of celebrating different occassions including marriage.
Normally, a Palestinian band is hired to dance traditional dances while wearing traditional Palestinian clothes in the beginning of the wedding, and sometimes once more during the wedding.
An open Buffet or set menu is usually served in the middle or the end of the party that includes food, deserts, and drinks.