5 Courtship Rituals From Around the World by Melia Alexander
In my latest romantic comedy, The Best Friend Incident, the heroine is an unabashed romantic, searching for her one true love. She arrives home one night to find a trail of rose petals leading to her bedroom, and it’s just the thing that makes her believe she’s finally found The One.
It got me to thinking how other cultures deal with finding the right mate, which of course led me to the interwebs, and down the maze of articles and blog posts that I devoured all in the name of research, right? I gotta tell you, some of what I’d found was flat-out fascinating!
Here are a few of my faves:
#1 Scotland – Blackening
Blackening typically happens the day before the wedding, when the bride and groom are doused with soot, treacle (which I learned was a type of molasses), flour, and feathers. If this were the olden days, the victim(s) would be loaded onto the back of a cart and paraded around town, but these days they’re loaded onto the back of someone’s pick-up truck with horns and claxons blaring. And, surprise, surprise, alcohol is involved. As if anyone sober would agree to that! LOL.
#2 Austria – Armpit-Sweat Soaked Apples
In rural parts of Austria, young ladies perform a ritual dance with apple slices lodged in their armpits. (Like, seriously!) When the dance is over, she presents the apple slice to her chosen man, who then gobbles it up. Assuming he likes her, of course!
Uh-huh. This is just what a guy wants from his sweetheart, right?
#3 Mauritania – Fat Farms
When I think of a fat farm, I envision slightly rotund women running, stretching, lifting, swimming…and eating rabbit food in an attempt to shed a few pounds. Not so in Mauritania, a country in West Africa. For these folks, being fat is seen as a symbol of wealth and social importance.
At their version of fat farms, young ladies who are ready to marry are fattened up to the point where they’re force fed a mountain range-worth of couscous and an endless stream of milk! Okay, maybe not quite that much, but you get the picture… Frankly, sitting around eating all day doesn’t sound like such a bad plan if pizza and cookies are involved. Just sayin’!
#4 Japan – White Day
The Japanese have an interesting twist to Valentine’s Day where chocolates are purchased by girls and given to the boys while the girls get…zilch. Not a damn thing! But wait, it’s not all that bad. See, about a month later White Day rolls around when the guy now has to buy white chocolate for his girl – IF his feelings are mutual. Pretty cool, huh? Especially when the guy is expected to spend TWICE the amount of money as was spent on him on Valentine’s Day!
#5 Indonesia – Teeth Filing
I gotta admit, this one I totally don’t understand, but it’s so fascinating! Well, okay, I totally don’t get the apple-in-the-armpit thing, either, but still…
This is a ritual that both boys and girls experience once they hit puberty, when a total of 6 teeth are filed. This is a big darned deal! See, it’s believed that by filing away the fang-like shape of the teeth, the soul is smoothed out, too. All in all, there are 13 rituals that Indonesian boys and girls go through. When I get brave enough, I might have to check out the other 12!
Courtship rituals are designed to help us find our perfect mate, whether it’s following a trail of rose petals, apples with armpit sweat, or filing our teeth, even. At the end of the day, we know that finding our happily ever after is worth it!
The Best Friend Incident
Stacey Winters is in love with love, but so far, she’s only found Mr. Dud, Mr. Cheater, and Mr. Boring. Even though her best friend Grant isn’t an option, at least being around him offers her a window into the male psyche—and sets the bar high for her future Mr. Right.
But then she accidentally crosses the friend zone and kisses him, and it starts to feel a little too much like he might be what she’s been looking for...
Grant Phillips doesn’t do relationships. A casualty of the foster care system, he knows people are just looking for a reason to bolt. "No attachments" is his hard and fast rule. There's only one exception: his best friend, Stacey. He refuses to jeopardize what they have.
But now that he knows how good it felt to kiss her, felt the addictive slide of her body against his, Stacey Winters is indelibly stamped onto Grant's brain—and not just as his friend.
He is so screwed.
Melia Alexander is the author of sassy, sexy, fun contemporary romances, but is also fortunate to spend her week days at The Male Observation Lab (a.k.a. her job at a construction company) where she gets to observe guys in their natural habitat. Though they often behave like typical alpha males, in many instances she's seen through their personas to the heart of who they really are - the heroes of their own stories.
A native of Guam, Melia traded in warm, tropical breezes for the rainy Pacific Northwest where she now resides with her husband, two amazing nieces, and three adorable kitties. She's an avid reader who also loves to watch romantic comedies - preferably with a glass of Cab Sauv and a box of dark chocolates nearby. In her free time, she's busy conquering her CrossFit fears: ring dips, power cleans, and the dreaded 800 meter run. Her family appreciates her attempts at cooking and cleaning, although she spends it mostly daydreaming about her characters, which sometimes results in a burnt meal and a half-cleaned house.