Traditional and modern: two Kyrgyz weddings

In Kyrgyz culture marriage is one of the most important decisions and acts of person’s life. Family definitely stands among highest priorities of Kyrgyz people and marriages are meant to last for a lifetime. Therefore the wedding is very important not only for the bride and groom, but for their extended family and friends.

Kyrgyz weddings incorporate rituals, some of which often controversial. For example it is quite common to marry in a white “western style” gown, but along the “western” style wedding it’s mandatory to conduct the ritual of nikkah, the muslim traditional ritual of marriage. In other words, just like Kyrgyz culture, Kyrgyz weddings represent mix of traditions and cultures, which are cherished and influential in Kyrgyzstan.

Bakytbek Tokubek uulu and Meerim Avtandil kyzy

To get a clearer picture of what a Kyrgyz wedding looks like, I have decided to describe two real weddings, one done in modern “western” style and another in “traditional” Kyrgyz style.


August 3, 2011 5 comments

Summer Solstice Celebrations in France

Today, Friday 24 June, is in France the day we celebrate St. John the Baptist and it is also an opportunity to celebrate the Feux de la Saint-Jean.

This tradition, which dates back to ancient times, most likely originated in Asia Minor and was introduced to Eastern Europe by the Celtic tribes 3000 years ago. Feux de la Saint-Jean was originally the celebration of the Summer Solstice on June 21st. The ancients use to light bonfires on the previous evening in honour of the Sun, a way to pray for its protection for the harvest to come.

feux de la saint-jean bonfire
Image credit


June 24, 2011 10 comments

Not the 1st January: New Year Celebrations in India

Calendars come in many forms, from huge ones hanging on walls to pocket-sized ones and today, digital ones on the computer or mobile. No matter what changes, one thing remains constant – the calendar itself. We have become so used to the Gregorian calendar that no one needs reminding about the day the New Year begins – the first day of January. It is difficult indeed to think of all the calendars which preceded the one we are so used to today.

However, one place where the ancient calendars still survive is in India, even though we follow the Gregorian calendar in our day to day life. When it comes to family celebrations, be it birthdays or weddings, a sacred thread ceremony, or even a death in the family, the first thing we hunt for is the Hindu calendar. Here again, there are so many versions, depending on the region we belong to. While some of us follow the solar calendar, others follow one which is called the ‘Luni-solar calendar’. Confused? Well, it is rather confusing even to those of us who have grown up with it. Just to give you an idea of the similarities and differences, let me tell you about two different new years that we celebrated this year. (more…)

May 12, 2011 1 comment

The great big Coorgi wedding

The Indian wedding is a splash of colour, a blur of reds, yellows, greens and dazzling gold. It is the finest advertisement of Indian hospitality with guests numbering in the hundreds, sometimes entire villages. This detail I am careful not to miss in any conversations about marriage here in London, for the sheer amusement of seeing jaws drop once the comprehension of the scale of the wedding hits the listener. The pageantry of the processions stays in the mind long after the wedding is over – the Mehendi, The Food, The Drink, the Dancing and then the innumerable rituals steeped in traditions and kept alive through the ages, handed down from one generation to the next.

Weddings vary in form and structure depending on the state the bride and groom are from. And so the ‘Indian wedding experience’ is as diverse as they come.


April 29, 2011 7 comments

Religious diversity in Argentina

One assignment for Religion class at school was a paper about different religions. I was seventeen and went to a Catholic school. I was only vaguely aware that there were other religions apart from Catholicism. For example, I knew about Judaism but only through biblical references. That assignment was an eye-opener for me; it helped me understand a little more about our society.

My hometown’s church


April 15, 2011 2 comments

Naming children: traditions in 13 different countries

How are children’s names chosen in your country? Do you follow ancient naming traditions or are modern names more popular? Do you pass names down through family generations or invent new ones?

We’ve had a lot of fun writing this post and the subject of how children are named in our various countries has inspired a lot of discussion within our team of contributors. So, read on to find out how children’s names are chosen in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey and the USA.

Have something to add? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.


By Ana, regional contributor from Argentina.

There aren’t many clear-cut naming traditions in Argentina nowadays. In the past, first-born babies were named after their parents but now the focus is on distinctiveness. Parents choose names they like or that are fashionable. For example, when Argentinean-born Maxima Zorriegueta married Crown Prince Wilhelm-Alexander of the Netherlands, the name Maxima became very popular.


April 13, 2011 29 comments