Algerian Wedding Traditions

Algerian wedding traditions are based on Muslim law. There are certain rules that must be followed. Read our guide for more facts and information…

According to the Koran, marriage is a very serious act, and is more a family oriented act than a private one. Men and women are permitted to marry whomever they want as long as the mate is approved by the family.

Choosing the Mate

Typically, the man will tell his mother that he wants to marry a certain woman. The mother will then set about investigating the woman and her family. If all meets with approval, the man and woman’s fathers will negotiate the marriage. After this is settled, the engagement is official and preparations are made.

Preparations

From the time of the engagement, there are many preparations. The family will purchase household goods, cloths and gold. This is called a shoura, and is given to the betrothed couple as a way to help them start their married life.

The couple will spend much time together getting to know each other. This is important, as by Islamic law decisions are made jointly by the husband and wife. By getting to know each other, they become acquainted as to what the role of each will be in the marriage, as well as the viewpoints that they have.

Food begins being prepared weeks prior to the wedding. In Algeria the more money spent on the wedding, the more proud the family can be. The wedding meal will include couscous, meats and vegetables along with desserts such as baklava. The more plentiful the food, the more generous the family is said to be.

The Ceremony

The guests are all seated first. Then the bride will appear and is seated at a “throne” in front. She wears an intricate wedding gown and is adorned with makeup, much jewelry and henna designs on her hands and feet. A little later the groom dressed in ornate but traditional clothing joins her and sits in his throne. A holy man conducts the ceremony and the bride and groom then walk out as husband and wife.

Celebration

The true wedding celebration then begins with guests partaking of the wedding meal served in buffet style. They are joined by the happy couple and their families. The feasting may go on for hours or in some cases for days.

The bride is surrounded by well wishers happily shouting to her. At this point she is never alone, but has her own entourage. No one leaves the celebration until the bride and groom go off to a nearby room and consummate their marriage. By tradition, which at this point is not always followed in modern society, the bride’s hymen stained underwear or bed sheets are put on display. At this point the ceremony is over. Guests may stay or leave depending on the time set aside for celebrating.

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