Do the Inuit Have Wedding Celebrations?

Published on August 18, 2014 by Amy

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Inuit Wedding
Inuit Wedding

Wedding ceremonies are different in virtually every culture, with some lasting for days, some having specific rules about what you can eat and others incorporating traditional ideas about the significance of colors and flowers. The Inuit, by contrast, have set themselves apart by having no traditional wedding celebrations at all.

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The Inuit

The Inuit, also known as Eskimos, live in Arctic areas of Alaska, northern Canada, Siberia and Greenland. The name Eskimo was given to them by the Abnaki Indians and means “eaters of raw flesh,” but today most prefer to be called Inuit, which simply means “people” in their language. They are considered Native Americans or First People, but they are closely related to Asia’s Mongolians and share more physical and cultural characteristics with them than with the Native Americans found in the continental United States.

Traditional Marriage

Until quite recently, the Inuit didn’t have any wedding ceremonies or marriage contracts within their culture. Stories tell of grooms “kidnapping” willing brides as part of the event, but generally, the Inuit had very loose traditions surrounding marriage. The marriages were typically arranged by parents — sometimes while the bride and/or groom was just days old — and the unions might even be temporary, lasting for one or two hunting seasons. Usually, women were married as soon as they reached puberty, and the men married once they were able to hunt and provide for the family.

Modern Wedding Ceremonies

Although the older Inuit traditions didn’t include wedding ceremonies, the Inuit have, in recent years, started planning more traditional Christian weddings. Their populations had largely been isolated because of their location, but starting in the mid-1900s, more permanent towns were created in the Arctic for either military or mining endeavors. With the establishment of new populations and increased contact with the outer world, many Inuit were Christianized, and they now celebrate the more typical Christian weddings found throughout North America.

Inuit Wedding Vows

As part of a Christian wedding, the bride and groom normally exchange vows. Although the author of the poem below is unknown, it is attributed to the Inuit, according to

Eskimo Love Song

You are my husband, you are my wife

My feet shall run because of you

My feet dance because of you

My heart shall beat because of you

My eyes see because of you

My mind thinks because of you

And I shall love because of you

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