by Ella Russell, Greenheart Travel high school student in France
These last two weeks have been winter vacation for students in France, so since last Thursday, I am staying in Lyon with relatives of my host family. It has been very interesting. The relatives live in the countryside of Lyon, which is very pretty, although rather far away from pretty much everything, so there has been a lot of driving. One of things we did was the Middle-Eastern pre-wedding party last Saturday.
First, we drove to the grandparents’ house (the parents of the wife of my host uncle), who were going to the party as well, along with several aunts and cousins. The party was just for females, like a bridal party, although some boys came as well. The actual wedding time wasn’t even decided. We arrived in a large room rented to accommodate the large number of guests, greeting the bride (the cousin of my host aunt) with the ‘bisou’ (the French kiss).
Arabic music was playing, and both before the meal and throughout the courses, people would get up and dance. I decided to just watch and take pictures; the dance was in an interesting Arabic style.
For the first course, there were several different kinds of pastries. Some I knew, like the baklava, but there were others that I had never seen before, like this picture. While it looks slightly like noodles, it is sweet and sticky.
Then, there were pastries that were more savory, rice covered in a sweet sauce, some sort of salad, the main dish of couscous, and fruit salad.
After more dancing, the children all went into another room, where they received candles. Then they paraded out and everyone crowded around the bride. Occasionally, people would ululate, a practice common in the Middle East, especially for weddings.
The bride sat down in front of a large round table, an older woman put a thick amount of henna in a circle on her palm, and then both her hands were covered by silky cloth.
All of the children, including me, received the henna as well, because having the henna meant that you were not married.
Several pictures next to the bride followed, and the party was finally ended with cake and tea.