Karen culture has beautiful traditions that have endured and developed over times of crisis and change. Weddings are one of the ways in which younger Karen people tie together the new and old.
Marriage is very important for Karen people and we have some similar traditions but also some different ones based on what religion someone follows. The wedding will likely follow the customs of the bride and her family.
Whilst there are few restrictions on who Karen people can marry and they are able to marry from different ethnic and religious groups, women are required to return home to get married with their family present.
Christian brides will likely get married in a church and will wear the traditional Karen wedding dress consisting of a red skirt and black shirt. The ceremony can include personal vows and more traditional church vows that the priest will speak. The wedding ends with a feast at the house of the bride and then she will go to the home of her husband or their new shared home on the following day.
Buddhist Karen women have a ceremony at home and is can be up to three days long. Two days are spent with the bride and her family and the final day with the groom and his family hosting. Brides often wear the traditional white Karen dress and then she will change into the red and black shirt and shirt on the second day to symbolise her now being married.
A married couple and two unmarried people as well as one child must be present, as this is an important traditional requirement for a wedding. The presence of the married couple is to bless their union, the unmarried people and child are there to bless the continuity of the marriage and having children.
Food is central to weddings and a feast is a way to thank guests and bless the union of the bride and groom. Families often have both Thai and Karen cuisine. Most of them have both Thai food and Karen food. As people move into cities, many aspects of modern wedding culture is being adopted, such as new dresses or parties and gift giving. However, many young Karen people are making the effort to keep traditions alive on their special day and Karen weddings a lovely event full of warmth and hope!