The wedding I attended over the weekend was held at a Serbian Orthodox church. I was unfamiliar with the Serbian customs, but enjoyed witnessing them.
Two examples: there was a “crowning”, with the bride and groom both wearing rhinestone crowns joined together with a ribbon and the Dance of Isaiah, where the bride and groom’s hands were tied together with the officiant’s sash as they processed around the church. It made for a much more interesting ceremony than the weddings I usually attend.
On the day I was back, I attended a discussion group about norms and what it is like to be new to a culture. One of the points was that we often need to travel to see that what we think is common is, in fact, uncommon to other groups. I thought of the wedding — I am sure that the church rituals and folk dances at the reception are typical for every Serbian wedding and none of the bride’s immediate family saw anything noteworthy in them.
All of this reminded me of an exercise I am using in class in our Strengths Finder module — students sign their name five times with their dominant hand and then five times with their other hand. Of course one feels much more natural, but neither is more correct than the other. One just feels “right” for you.
Make a conscious effort this week to see a slice of life through a different lens. You can enjoy the best customs and practices from another group and simultaneously learn to appreciate what you have been taking for granted in your own culture. That is something to celebrate!