Eritrean Wedding Dancing Tradition and Money

Background provided by DG: DG was born and raised in Redlands, California. Both of their parents were born in west Africa, but more specifically Eritrea. Eritrea is located on the Horn of Africa and adjacent to the Red Sea. They belong to a specific tribe of Eritrea, called Blen (spelled Blien). DG also identifies as being part of the Habesha ethnic group, which describes Roman Othodoc Christians in West Africa. After war broke out, both of their parents migrated to America. 

Context: DG was approached about folklore, which they shared in the middle of the day. They were very enthusiastic about sharing parts of their culture because not many people are aware of Eritrean tradition and culture. They explain a specific Eritrean wedding practice involving money and dancing. 

Main Piece Transcription of interview (contains the context of particular performance and additional background information):

DG: “ During the wedding … like the whole time … like if you’re dancing really well … they like stick money on you. And, typically … people like … really favor the bride and the groom … and like the bride and grooms’ parents … cause they’re like the ones that … spend the money. Ummm …. And they’ll just … like stick money on your forehead … or on your shirt … or whatever. That means … like you’re dancing … well … they do that the whole weekend.” 

Analysis: This custom is indicative of many Eritrean beliefs and values. One of them being is art of dancing. Dancing is often considered it own language because it conveys emotions and attitudes in a very physical and performative manner. DG explained how this custom rewards great performances, but seems to place an emphasis on recognition amongst peers. Another Eritrean value is the supportive community. DG explained how many would favor the groom/ bride and their parents because they are spending money on the wedding ceremonies. The whole community comes together to not only suport the union of two individuals, but also provide some form of financial support in a possible time of need. Lastly, it seems like Eritrean people are very physically affectionate. They are not shy about showing their appreciate to others who are dancing well by placing money on others.