Our Favourite Wedding Traditions



  1. Thobe Dress

Back in the day, older generations would hand-stitch patterns on dresses called thobes that would symbolize their heritage and what part of Palestine they were from. Nowadays, many women wear the dresses passed down to them from their mothers or grandmothers, which can come in many designs and colours, however the most traditional and popular embroidery is in the colour red.

Although most brides today typically wear a white dress for the main wedding reception, it isn’t uncommon to wear the traditional Palestinian thobe throughout celebrations leading up to it. The thobe dress is most commonly worn on the henna night, where both the bride and the guests celebrate in these dresses filled with beautiful embroidery and patterns.



  1. Henna Night


 The famous henna night takes place right before the big wedding ceremony. Traditionally, this event takes place in the bride's home with her female friends and family and involves a night of celebrating the bride-to-be with singing, dancing, traditional music and of course, henna. There are usually baskets filled with henna decorated with candles and flowers which are carried while dancing. The bride, who will be wearing a traditional thobe, will have her hands decorated with henna in beautiful patterns, marking a joyous occasion and beautifying her for her big day. In some cases as well, the groom will also have henna applied on his hands by his mother.



  1. Shaving The Groom
Another Palestinian tradition is for the groom to have a public shaving either the night before or on the morning of the wedding. Many times, a close friend or a family member will do the shaving, representing the close connection they have with the groom. This is the male equivalent of a henna night, where the groom will be celebrated and prepared to look his best for the big celebration. Once the shaving is complete and the groom is ready, everyone will start to make their way to the bride’s house for the zaffa.



  1. Zaffa / Dabke


 It’s not an Arab party without dabke and zaffa, and the Palestinians sure know how to do it well. Traditionally, the groom and his family will go to pick up the bride from her home with an entire zaffa team who will play music, sing and dance to kick off celebrations on the big day. This will continue once they arrive at the wedding venue as they provide a grand entrance for the couple and hype up the guests. Then throughout the night, energetic Arab dancing known as dabke will take place, where guests stand in a line holding hands while walking around the dancefloor and kicking their legs into the air.



  1. Zaghareet 

An iconic part of any traditional Arab wedding is ‘zaghareet’, which one must experience to fully understand, but summed up, it’s a loud celebratory sound Arab women will make with their mouths. It’s created by touching the tongue either to the sides of the mouth or the teeth in a very fast motion and is usually done at weddings after singing or chanting to congratulate the bride and groom.





About the Author: Dana Masamra worked with Sitti Social Enterprise as a Communications Assistant during the 2022 summer. She is of Palestinian descent and ethnicity and was born in Jordan but lives in Canada. Her career is based on journalism and digital content creation.


Images: middleeasteye.net/eastmojo.com/paliroots.com/@darsalma

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