True love conquering all is a concept that appeals to romantics worldwide. From Tim Burton's Corpse Bride to the Bride of Frankenstein, weddings and other rituals for those who've passed have always been a staple of art and lore.
Some strange shenanigans, from spirit polygamy to weddings with decomposing bodies do go on in real life... and in the 21st century, no less. Below are some memorably ornate ceremonies that are probably commencing somewhere as we speak.
Levirate Marriage, known as Yibbum in Hebrew, is a Jewish tradition that states that a man must "marry the childless widow of his brother to produce a child who will carry the deceased brother's name, so that the deceased brother will not be forgotten." The tradition, which was first mentioned in the Book of Deuteronomy, can get somewhat complicated.
Should the brother of the deceased refuse to marry his sister-in-law, a ceremony called Halitza, AKA "the Removed Sandal," takes place. The widow "loosens or removes the brother-in-law's shoe, spits in front of his face, and says, 'So shall be done to a man who refuses to build up his brother's house.'" This ceremony is only performed by the Orthodox today, but after it's done, the widow is free to marry whomever she wants.
Some present-day cultural practices in Ebonyi State, southeastern Nigeria, apparently stipulate that marriage must come before burial. And in early 2016, Adejo Emmanuel found himself on the receiving end of such a decree. After his fiancé died in childbirth, her family reportedly refused to let her burial ceremonies commence without a wedding. For financial reasons, however, this request left Emmanuel in a bind. He said:
I have no money to pay for the mortuary; I also have no money to feed the children; and my in-laws are demanding... for me to come over and do a compulsory marriage with her before she could be buried. They say some rituals must be performed and 350,000 naira must be paid to her family as part of her bride-price, before talking about the burial at all. Where do I get the money from?
In Haitian Vodou, also called Voodoo, the primary spirits are called lwa. It is reportedly not uncommon for followers of this religion to marry a lwa in a "mystic marriage," which even involves a ring, a priest, and a cake. This ceremony apparently ensures spiritual protection, but it requires abstinence on a certain holiday.
The lwa are known to have distinct personalities. Some are brave but quick-tempered, while others are flighty but generous.
In 1982, famed boxer Kim Duk-koo collapsed into a coma after his opponent beat him within inches of his life. Four days later, he died, but his inconsolable fiancé didn’t let that stop her. "I have decided to make a spiritual marriage with him because I believe that is the only way to console him,” Duk-koo's bride (who, at the time of his death, was pregnant with his child) explained.
Though she reportedly did not go through with the ceremony, she claimed she had no plans to marry anyone else.