Begging On The Streets

by admin on September 18, 2014

Last week I and some coworkers were in a different country with a language we do not speak having dinner at a restaurant with outdoor seating. This whole street, in fact, was lined with outdoor seating patios. We saw, a few restaurants down, a woman dressed in a makeshift white tulle dress carrying a basket and sign, followed by a larger party.

Eventually she made her way to our table. For her wedding shower, she was walking up to strangers who were having dinner and asking them for money. If they gave her money, she’d give them a piece of candy (a singular candy, like a peppermint). As she approached our table, she asked if we spoke her language. All together, we said NO and she left without propositioning us.
Unless this is a custom we had never heard of, I can’t believe it’s not tacky to interrupt people you don’t know at a meal to ask them to fund your wedding. Talk about a gimme!   0827-14

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelli September 18, 2014 at 9:23 am

In Scotland, this is a tradition at the bridal shower.

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Kirsten October 6, 2014 at 3:16 pm

There is no tradition of bridal showers in Scotland.

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Anna October 18, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Bridal showers in Scotland? A new development there? I wasn’t aware that showers were common anywhere in the UK, although the hen night tradition is still very strong.

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Roselin September 18, 2014 at 10:05 am

Was this in Italy?

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Roselin September 18, 2014 at 10:19 am

I suppose I should post a complete thought.
There is an Italian custom like this, but it is done at the end of a reception. Not in the streets among strangers. There is also another Italian custom where the bride just wears a silk bag for guests to drop money in – traditionally this helps the father offset wedding expenses. There are actually several Italian wedding customs involving the exchange of money at a wedding.

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Princess Buttercup September 18, 2014 at 10:31 am

O.o I have never heard of that. I’d be interested in knowing if that is a custom for that country or not.
I have a book of wedding traditions from all over the world, some recent and some old. I’ve not finished the book but I don’t recall running across something like that yet.

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Sabrina September 18, 2014 at 10:54 am

I would guess that you were in Germany when this episode took place?

Here it is fairly common while having the hen night for the bride to be to be given a task or even multiple tasks to accomplish, before the proper celebration starts at a bar or club. One of these tasks could be that she was given a vendor’s tray with assorted items (could be candy, balloons, small schnapps bottles or other trinkets) and for her to have to sell those. These do not fund the wedding – I wouldn’t want to imagine how long that would actually take – but rather fund a round of beer/champagne on the night out.

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Sabrina September 18, 2014 at 10:56 am

…oh, and I want to add – while the overall happening is a custom, no, it definitely isn’t customary to interrupt folks enjoying their dinner to sell trinkets; rather as I know it, people in pedestrian zones or in pub-lined streets are being approached.

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licoricepencil September 18, 2014 at 11:04 am

I don’t know about wedding showers, but I do know that in Germany it is a custom for brides-to-be and their bridesmaids to dress up in dreidels and sell candies to raise money for their bachelorette party later that night.

Different strokes for different folks I guess!

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admin September 18, 2014 at 2:01 pm

You mean dirndls, right?

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licoricepencil September 18, 2014 at 8:05 pm

Yes, sorry! Blame autocorrect.

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Cat September 18, 2014 at 9:14 pm

I liked dreidels better. I could see them spinning their way through the afternoon.

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AthenaC September 25, 2014 at 11:36 pm

For comments like these, we need like buttons. :)

Sabrina September 19, 2014 at 4:20 am

Sorry, but not all of Germany does dress in dirndls :) This is usually done wearing your usual clothes or in matching t-shirts as technobabble describes.

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nannerdoman September 18, 2014 at 11:09 am

Not knowing what country this is, I can only guess this is some quaint local custom–a misbegotten mishmash of Bridal Shower and Trick-or-Treat.

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technobabble September 18, 2014 at 11:15 am

There is a thing that some girls do here (western Canada) during their stagette parties that is similar. Usually it takes place in nightclubs, though, and not sit-down restaurants. The bride-to-be will usually be dressed up by her friends in a white t-shirt that has “Buck a Suck” or some other equally in-your-face innuendo written across it. She will be given a bucket of suckers/lollipops and will have to convince people to buy a sucker from her for a loonie (one dollar coin), with the goal of selling her entire supply by the end of the night. I’m not sure what the money is later used for (either given to the bride, or paying for drinks for the party for the rest of the night?), but it’s something you see fairly often in my neck of the woods. Like I said, though, it is usually reserved to nightclubs, where people are usually lubricated enough to play along with good humor.

Luckily, my bridesmaids decided to forego the “asking complete strangers for money” portion of my bachelorette. They instead made Quidditch uniforms (the imaginary sport played on broomsticks in Harry Potter) for the seven of us attending, labeling each of us a different position on the team. Of course, as the bride-to-be, mine said “I’m a Keeper” on the back. I liked my innuendo more than the lollipop one :)

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SMHL September 18, 2014 at 3:12 pm

I LOVE the Quidditch idea! Buck a suck is awful though. I’ve seen people go so far as to sew Lifesavers on to shirts for people to bite off. So tacky!

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Jen April 6, 2015 at 4:11 pm

I unfortunately attended a bachelorette party once where, like you said, the bride had the lifesavers sewn to her shirt. She went so far as to reposition the shirt for each guy who paid so that the lifesaver in question was positioned in front of her…I’m not sure I can say it on this site…Let’s just say the centermost portion of her breast. Plus, she had a checklist of activities that included her making out with a random guy. Maybe I’m old-fashioned in thinking this, but I feel that if you still want to make out with random guys, you shouldn’t be getting married.

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Emily September 18, 2014 at 3:23 pm

The Harry Potter theme is adorable! I love the “I’m a Keeper” shirt idea.

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jay September 19, 2014 at 9:04 am

Okay, the “I’m a Keeper” thing is pretty cute.

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Wendy September 19, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Ha! You’d have three “Chasers” and one “Seeker”, pretty cute! Not sure about the two “Beaters” though :)

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technobabble September 22, 2014 at 10:25 am

MOH was the Seeker (which was funny, because she was the one that set up Husband and I in the first place), the other two bridesmaids were quite proud to be the Beaters, and my SIL-to-be, cousin, and other good friend were the Chasers. We got some pretty good pictures out of it, and there was one bartender that told us we were the coolest bachelorette he had ever seen :D

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Mer September 19, 2014 at 2:44 am

This is quite common in Europe, I think, in different forms. Or used to be, most of brides don’t like this kind of action and many say this is one thing they don’t want to do (of course I can only speak for my culture) if they can get through the bridesmaids. Here (in Finland) this is however not for wedding shower as we do not have them, but bachelorette parties.

Generally around here the monetary amount they ask is “pennies” and they might be selling different things from kisses to condoms. And as some mentioned, this money is not for the wedding, it’s probably good for few drinks later in the night. The aim of this is more to well.. put the bride on the spot rather than gather money. Luckily the embarrassing bachelorette parties are not in the fashion any more so this is not seen that often around here.

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Double You September 19, 2014 at 9:08 am

I’m from Belgium, and only recently I helped out a bride to be who had to sell a tray full of pink marzipan penises in a busy shopping street. And before that I remember a bride who had to sell her skirt… she started out with a long white wedding dress-like skirt, but everyone who made a donation was handed a pair of scissors to cut off a piece of it, until the bride was left with a mini skirt. So yes, I am familiar with the tradition. It’s mostly a harmless bit of fun, more for a laugh than for the money.

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kingsrings September 19, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Now I’m wanting to take bets on how long it will be until this lovely custom makes it way to the U.S. I can just see bridezillas and bridal partyzillas everywhere thinking, “What a great way for us to raise money for the big, dream wedding that we can’t must have that we can’t afford otherwise!!”

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Mer September 20, 2014 at 5:52 am

Well, it won’t be the same custom. I don’t think something like 10-20 dollars will help much with the wedding…

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NostalgicGal September 20, 2014 at 3:16 am

I hope it doesn’t come to the US; just another way to embarr*ss or make a jack*ss of the bride and wedding party in the name of money. We have plenty of gimme’s going on already….

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Laila February 15, 2015 at 6:27 pm

Already did!

I have seen this in my small Midwestern city more times than I would like to admit. As a Midwestern bride-to-be, I had to specify to friends that I DID NOT want this. It’s usually at nightclubs and it’s usually really rude and obnoxious.

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LadyV September 21, 2014 at 1:32 pm

This ran on Thursday – last night when I was on a shuttle bus coming home from a concert, I ran into a situation like this for the first time. The BTB was selling Tootsie Pops – and it was pretty obvious that it was less of a money maker than a chance to have some fun. To me, it was a lot more tolerable than dollar dances, wishing wells, or “the cost of your gift to me needs to equal the cost of your meal”. The ladies weren’t pressuring anyone to buy (and yes, I have seen pressure brought to bear at wedding receptions for those who don’t contribute to the dollar dance/wishing well/other gimme pig fundraiser), they were having fun without being loud and obnoxious – and they actually had several people (me included) volunteer to buy a pop without them asking. Win-win – the bridal party had fun, and so did the people on the shuttle.

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m September 22, 2014 at 5:58 am

This country you were in wouldn’t happen to be france, would it? The French usually do this sort of thing for the bachelorette party. They call it roughly translated “burrial of your life as a careless youth”. A bride will be given a series of embarrassing tasks all through the night by her friends as a means of getting the crazy out of her system before zmbarking on a new life as a serious married adult (guys do it too). It’s pretty hilarious and not meant to offend. The fact that this bride left you alone as quickly as she did tells me that she was in no way trying to extort money from you and that she knew that as a foreigner you were probably not familiar with this tradition. The money btw is not nearly enough to pay for a wedding, just enough for a round of drinks for the bridesmaods.

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B September 24, 2014 at 7:19 am

So…you’re in a different country, yet when a custom you don’t know pops up, you instantly decide it’s tacky and rude? You don’t think that ooh, perhaps in the country where you are a TOURIST, they might have different ideas of what is acceptable etiquette at times? Or that if you could speak the bride’s language, she might have been able to explain it a little better? That this might just be a culture clash?

No, you just decide it’s wrong, end of story. Classy.

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Lanes October 5, 2014 at 6:55 pm

I’m pretty sure asking complete strangers for money is tacky in any country/culture.

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GKelly October 22, 2014 at 6:03 pm

Yeah, I’m too am having a hard time believing the bride was the rude one here . . .

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Pat September 24, 2014 at 8:35 pm

This is also quite common at hen nights in France. The amounts are minimal and they are spent right away for a couple of drinks for the bride. The purpose is to embarrass the bride, who sometimes has to dress up a certain way (usually some theme to the hen night). In recent years, I’ve known a bride at her hen night to have to sing songs to strangers and dance with them in the street, another was dressed up like a Playboy bunny and had to sell lollipops, another was dressed like a big chicken and had to jump around people. While it is not common to approach people who are having dinner at a restaurant, I suppose the outdoor setting served the purpose quite well and the bride could get that awkward, make-fun-of-me part of the evening over quickly. To me, this is, while not exactly appealing, less offending than the wedding showers you have in America, which I see as gift-grabs where you have to bring a second gift to the bride in addition to the wedding gift you’re getting the couple.

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Enna October 4, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Approaching people who are eating sounds a bit rude. If this is traditional and is only done for pennies for a bottle of wine that’s fine. If it is done aggressively or for significant sums of money e.g. £5 for one little sweet than that’s not on.

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KC Kidder December 10, 2014 at 3:03 am

I do not know where this rude custom started, but can tell you it is common in Midwest USA. During the
Bachelorette Party, the bride wears a skimpy shirt emblazoned with “bride”. The Bride to Be and attendees , I shall not stoop to call them ladies, go from bar to bar drinking and selling candy suckers to pay for their drinks. If this annoying and rude custom came from another country, I can only say I wish they had kept it. If it was dreamed up here as a way to finance a party you can ill afford, I can only say that “stupid is as stupid does”.

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MadBeatrice January 12, 2015 at 7:40 pm

Well, I know many people who do that, and it’s not ‘gimme’ in quite many countries. I lived in Austria and Germany (I’m from one of the Scandinavian countries myself), and this is done there, and not for ‘gimme’. It’s not money in that sense, a single penny is enough. It’s the act that matters. It’s not a wedding shower, as those are not really done in Europe. In my culture, for example, hosting a party for gifts, when it’s not a birthday, be it for a wedding or a baby or whatever, is considered a massive ‘gimme’. Few people here have bought into that american custom, but mostly they are seen as somewhat tacky and ‘gimme’. Personally, like Pat right above me, I think all forms of showers are remarkably tacky, and way more offensive than asking for pennies for lollypops for fun. To me it’s a gift-grabbing thing, and just feels weird. That does not mean I will judge all americans for their custom to have such parties. It’s a cultural thing, and should be treated as such.

What you saw likely was a part of a bachelorette / hen night (or, in my language ‘The Bride-Goose outing/ Geese Night). Often it’s twenty to fifty eurocent for a treat. It’s meant to be fun. I remember one time when I was out with my friends and a young man walks in with a sign saying ‘Kisses for sale, gentlemen 1 Euro, ladies 2 Euros’ with his bachelor crew. A friend og mine (A guy, with great sense of humour) asks one of the girls in the crew for her lipstick, we pass it around, go give the guy a 10 Euro bill, and then all kissed his cheeks and forhead until he was covered with kisses, much to his and his entourage’s amusement. It’s for fun, it’s for the hilarity and joking around.

Honestly I feel it’s somewhat judgemental to be in a foreign country and just label something you didn’t fully understand, or even tried to understand, as a ‘gimme!’. You applied your own cultural values to their culture. I suggest you ask a local what is going on next time before you decide they’re worthy of etiquette hell.

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