Burmese Marriage Ties


I talked to my aunt about some Burmese folk traditions and superstitions and she told me it’s bad luck to gift knives or scissors to a married couple. If you do, you’ve ensured their separation (so I guess it’s a last resort if your crush is taken). This is related to the symbolic tying of a couple’s hands together with cloth at Burmese weddings. The bind signifies that it is their duty to love and protect one another – that they are a team now and forever. But, you may ask, what about that amazing set of knives you never use that you just KNOW your newlywed best friend needs? In that case, they can buy it off of you, for whatever price you agree upon. It could even be a quarter, as long as it’s received as a transaction and not as a gift.


My aunt and my extended family abide by this tradition. My aunt remembered someone exchanging a quarter for some knives once, but it doesn’t really come up that often. It’s avoided because it’s easy to avoid – better safe than sorry. I don’t think anyone in my extended family would be horrified if someone gifted a sharp object by accident. They might be a little nervous, thinking “well what if it’s true?”, but not horrified. My aunt’s grandparents might have been, however. 


I definitely didn’t know about this superstition because I don’t think I’ve ever really been responsible for crafting a wedding gift. I think this superstition signifies how important marriage is in Burmese culture. What’s equally as important is family image, because in Burma, that somewhat determines who your friends are and how successful you are economically. Having a marriage end in divorce (which is currently legal in Burma) brings shame to the families of the former couple. This is because it’s the parents who give approval regarding who to marry. It isn’t exactly arranged marriage, but parents always have the final say. If you get divorced it looks bad for them because they were the ones who deemed your spouse right for you.